WALTER Magazine - August 2021

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Thee Art & Souul of Raleigh Th




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Volume IX, Issue 11 AUGUST 2021


LOCALS: The Sand Man Sculptor Ed Moore’s unique medium


SHOP: Thrill of the Hunt Modern Prolific’s team of pickers


EXPLORE: Home Grown The humble roots of Perkins Orchard

34 37


NOTED: Torch Bearer Meeting Anna J. Cooper


Editor’s Letter



FOOD: Del-(ish)-ious Matt Fern’s new deli takes shape


Your Feedback



MUSIC: Life in Tune The Freelon family finds solace


The Whirl


End Note


CREATORS: Totally Blawesome A unique flower farm


SIMPLE LIFE: Miss Mully’s Garden Is anything ever done?

On the cover: Taylor White; photography by Geoff Wood



Joshua Steadman (SCULPTURE); Joe Pellegrino (WATSON)



Raleigh Location 6616 Fleetwood Drive Appointment Only

Apex Location 123 North Salem Street 919.363.6990


Liz Condo (POOL); Bryan Regan (LAKE)





The World Is Still the World by Daniel Wallace illustration by Lyudmila Tomova


The Stitch Around Her Mouth by Etaf Rum illustration by Marie-Louise Bennett


82 12 | WALTER


Snap the Whip by Millard Dunn illustration by Winslow Homer


Outdoors In A Mediterranean-inspired abode off Lake Boone Trail by Addie Ladner photography by Liz Condo


Paint the Town Muralist Taylor White’s journey by Colony Little photography by Geoff Wood


A Nude Attitude Something about the pandemic inspires folks to bare all by Billy Warden photography by Bryan Regan

Into the New by Frances Mayes illustration by Gerry O’Neill

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Love Your CARPET


A glimpse of my my daughter’s cabin at Camp Kanata; our creative director Laura Wall and her daughter visited Jockey’s Ridge, inspired by our July story on Subpar Parks.


5634 Durham Chapel Hill Blvd., Durham, NC

Beauty, Artistry & Tradition FOR OVER 40 YEARS

n June, my older daughter went away to sleepaway camp for the first time. She was excited, and we were excited, too — her father and I have fond memories of camp, and her younger sister couldn’t wait to have our full attention. While she was gone, we wrote her a few letters. There wasn’t much to report: we went to work, ate leftovers for lunch, took her sister to swim practice. That’s what ended up in the letters, alongside reports on the weather, pictures of the cats, and lots of we miss you!s. But when she brought those letters home, crumpled up in her trunk, those snapshots of the everyday seemed somehow sweeter, the way they captured the happy mundanity of everyday life. Earlier this year, I got each of my girls a diary. They’ve written in them a few times, and I haven’t peeked yet. I was inspired by finding my own diary from about their age. Inside, I found several very similar entries that detailed a summer visit to my grandmother’s farm outside of Topeka, Kansas: “I’m bored.” One entry covered two pages: “I’m boooooooooooooored.” But looking at those words, I can see her brown-and-black mutt Abby, who we’d chase around the lawn. I remember the time my mom killed a snake with a garden hoe. I recall exploring the cow paths and building forts near the aban-

doned railroad tracks by the creek. I remember chiggers underneath my socks, following my grandma’s “stories” on the television, and reading every Nancy Drew mystery I could get my hands on. Words and memories are both imperfect; neither facts nor impressions tell the whole story. I wonder, when my daughter looks back on that first week of camp decades from now, if she’ll remember what she told us when she got home — that she cried for us every night — or what she wrote in her letter to us: that she was having an awesome time paddleboarding, swimming, and staying up late. And rereading my own diary was a reminder that sometimes the best memories can come from times we are allowed to be bored, to give our brains and bodies some space to wander. So lately, I’m making an extra effort to close the computer at 5 p.m., to stare into space instead of scrolling through my phone, to listen to the sound of birds instead of the morning news, to sit and think about something I’ve read instead of moving right on to the next thing. Once you finish reading this issue, perhaps you’ll be inspired to do the same.

Ayn-Monique Klahre Editor


Brie Williams









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for these upcoming author events V I RT U A L E V E N T

A Southern story of friendship forged by books and bees, when the timeless troubles of growing up meet the murky shadows of World War II. V I RT U A L E V E N T

Chef Bailey Ruskins Cook. Heal. Go Vegan! Wednesday, Sept 8th Noon If you’ve already joined the vegan revolution or are just curious about adding vegan meals to your rotation, Chef Bai’s new Cookbook will guide readers to make easy, nutrient-dense dishes while inviting purpose and intention into every meal. IN-PERSON EVENT

Gervais Hagerty In Polite Company Thursday, Sept 16th Time TBD Location TBD

COLONY LITTLE / W R I TE R Colony Little is a writer and a 2020 recipient of the Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant. “Every summer I feel pangs of wanderlust as I dream of traveling overseas. I was recently thumbing through the pages of my passport and found a quote from educator and writer Anna J. Cooper: The cause of freedom is not the case of a race or a sect or a party or a class – it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity. Cooper’s unique story is a part of Raleigh’s history that should be respected and celebrated. It was an honor to write about her life and work. Speaking of: Taylor White has a lot of stamps in her passport! The muralist’s artistic eye was shaped by years of travel, and has no fear of the unknown — I really admire that. It’s exciting to see her embrace a new phase of her practice with her pop-up gallery.”

LIZ CONDO / P HOTOGR A PH ER Liz Condo is a photographer based in Raleigh. She began her career as a photojournalist in Louisiana covering everything from natural disasters to major sporting events. At heart she is a storyteller driven by curiosity, exploring the people and places of our community with camera in hand. She has pursued a broad range of projects with a special focus on motherhood and conservation issues. “Photographing the Gardner family’s lightfilled home was a dream. Each room is thoughtfully designed and decorated with gorgeous details. The tile arch framing the tub in Lars and Ela’s bath was a personal favorite. The whole room glowed as late afternoon sunlight poured in through the windows.”

A captivating debut novel that looks inside the private lives of Charleston aristocracy, where a former debutante learns that sometimes good behavior leads to bad decisions IN-PERSON EVENT

Louise Marburg The Truth About Me October 7th Time TB Location TBD A Winner of the Independent Press Book Award for the short story, The Truth About Me was also shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. Her stories have appeared in such journals as Narrative, STORY, Carolina Quarterly, Ploughshares . and elsewhere.

140 NW Broad Street, Southern Pines, NC 28387 • 910.692.3211


BRYAN REGAN / P HOTO G R A P HE R Bryan Regan is an editorial and commercial photographer with a studio in downtown Raleigh. This month, he shot A Nude Attitude. “I’ve had a lot of interesting photography assignments over the years, but this one was a real eye opener. It’s not everyday you’re walking around in the nude in front of a bunch of strangers. It was truly a unique and interesting experience and helped teach me to be comfortable in my own skin… and to maintain eye contact.”

BILLY WARDEN / WR I T ER “For this month’s story on naturists, Bryan and I went undercover — which meant no cover at all. Chuckles aside, I was struck by the emphasis nudists place on ‘honesty.’ People often assume that hidden agendas drive politicians, many corporations, the press, their neighbors. Going au naturel leaves no place to hide. Still, one nudist cautioned that ‘even disrobed, people can be robed in their minds. This isn’t a wash-all.’ But for some, naturism represents taking a step closer to something simple and pure in a confusing and cluttered world.”

Courtesy contributors

Leah Weiss All the Little Hopes Wednesday, August 4th 7pm


FEEDBACK We love to hear from you! Tag us when you’re out and about — or cozied up at home with WALTER.

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“If you want to really understand the significance of Chavis Park, read this WALTER magazine piece. ” — @JuliainRaleigh “Thank you SO much for this wonderful, elegant coverage. I love the design of it, and of course, I love the way Liza writes. This is hugely meaningful to me.” — Elizabeth Bradford


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OUR TOWN Check a few items off your summer bucket list with these sporting events, street festivals, and outdoor performances

Courtesy of North Carolina Museum of History




All month long | See website for times Experience the joy of a North Carolina vacation between the 1930s and the 1970s at the North Carolina Museum of History’s photography exhibit, Are We There Yet? North Carolina’s Variety Vacationland. During these decades, tourism boomed thanks to the success of the “Variety Vacationland” campaign, which showcased our state’s rich history,

beaches like the Outer Banks, and the Blue Ridge Mountains. The exhibit also touches on the era’s racial divide — many attractions were only advertised and available to white residents of the state. “I tried to highlight the nuances of the Variety Vacationland campaign,” says curator of popular culture Katie Edwards, who put together the exhibit. “It

was an effective campaign that brought tourism to the state, but it was also a campaign that neglected to include all North Carolina’s citizens and tourists.” In-person; free; 5 E. Edenton Street;

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 21



Sundays | 10 - 11 a.m. Stretch out prior to shopping for local goods at Moore Square Market with Current Wellness’s flow classes, which take place Sunday mornings before the market opens. These free community classes teach intuitive movement through either a beginner or fast-paced instruction, and foster body positivity and appreciation. In-person; free; 200 S. Blount Street;

August 1 - 8 | See website for times Set in Raleigh during World War II, Into The Breeches is a play that centers around a director’s wife on the home front who attempts to put on an all-female production of Shakespeare’s Henry IV and Henry V. This comedy, based on the book by George Brant, is all about the transformative power of art and community. In-person; from $30; 6638 Old Wake Forest Road;

day on a dinosaur dig, ask questions, and meet paleontologists in the field. Virtual; free;


THE HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS August 1 | 3 p.m. See the Harlem Globetrotters on their Spread Game Tour at the PNC Arena, where the captivating basketball team will showcase feats of athleticism and talent. Expect their signature moves, like impressive slam dunks and trick shots, plus entertaining characters like Torch George, Hot Shot Swanson, and Wham Middleton. This show was postponed last year due to the pandemic. In-person; tickets starting at $17; 1400 Edwards Mill Road;

JJ GREY & MOFRO August 1 | 7 p.m. JJ Grey — “the north Florida sage and soul-bent swamp rocker” — and his band Mofro will return to the outdoor stage at Lincoln Theatre with special guest LORE as part of the venue’s Outdoor Concert Series. The Southern soul-rock band will perform its set rain or shine, including songs from albums Ol’ Glory and Brighter Days. In-person; $32.50; 126 E. Cabarrus Street; 22 | WALTER

August 4 | 12 - 1 p.m. Join paleontologist Dr. Lindsay Zanno and her team of scientists live from an expedition in Utah, where they’re spending the summer searching for undiscovered fossils of orodromine dinosaurs, dinosaur egg sites, new meat-eating dinosaurs, and more. Zanno, a professor at North Carolina State University and the head of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences paleontology department, recently discovered a new species of tyrannosaurus. The video call, part of the museum’s Lunchtime Discovery Series, will give you the rare opportunity to experience a


DOWNTOWN RALEIGH WALKING TOUR Saturdays | 10 a.m. Join the City of Raleigh Museum for a historic Fayetteville Street walking tour. The tour happens every Saturday in August and covers everything from the city’s origins to modern-day facts. Tours will begin at the City of Raleigh Museum inside the historic Briggs Hardware building and last roughly 30 minutes. In-person; $6 for adult, $4 for youth, free for children; 220 Fayetteville Street;


Sundays | 2 - 8 p.m. The Pour House Music Hall & Record d Shop will host six North Carolina musical acts, including Blue Cactus and Libby Rodenbough, every Sunday this month for folks to enjoy for free as part of its Local Band Local Beer series to support our area musicians and breweries. Three acts will perform in the record shop upstairs to kick off each afternoon, then three on the main stage downstairs afterward for a Sunday full of good tunes. The event itself is open to all ages, and you can also expect some stellar beer specials as well as Bloody Marys and mimosas. In-person; free; 224 S. Blount Street;

Getty Images (BASKETBALL); Justin Kase Conder (ZANNO); courtesy Foothills Brewing Company (BEER)



Courtesy Raleigh Little Theatre (BEEHIVE); Bob Karp (BULLS); Andy Mead/ISI Photos (SOOCER)

August 7 | 7 - 10 p.m Come dressed in your favorite sports gear for a trip to Dix Park to cheer on the underdog hockey team in the 1992 Stephen Herek classic film The Mighty Ducks. Bring your own blanket, low lawn chairs, and a cooler full of your favorite beverages and appetizers to settle in and enjoy the show. Free but reservations required; Flowers Field, 2105 Umstead Drive;

KINGS OF LEON August 8 | 7:30 p.m. Jam out to rock band Kings of Leon live at Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek, with an opening performance by indie rock band Cold War Kids. The concert is part of the tour for Kings of Leon’s latest record, When You See Yourself, so expect all-new songs played alongside past chart-toppers like “Use Somebody,” “Sex on Fire,” and, we hope, “Back Down South” — we’re in North Carolina, after all. In-person; general admission starting at $36; 3801 Rock Quarry Road;

BEEHIVE: THE 60’S MUSICAL August 12 - 28 | 8 p.m. Celebrating the musicians that paved the way for women in the industry, like Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, The Supremes, and Tina Turner, this musical follows a group of women from their first high school dance through the tumultuous changes in America during the 1960s. Featuring hit songs like “Me and Bobby McGee” and “Be My Baby,” it’s a chance to “turn back the clock and sing and dance along to songs that shaped a generation,” says Megan Farrell with Raleigh Little Theatre. In-person; $27 for an adult, $23 for a senior or student; 301 Pogue Street;



August 6 & 20 | 6:35 p.m. Take a field trip to our nearest minor league to root, root, root for the Durham Bulls as they take on the Memphis Redbirds and the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. While each of the seven evening games of the series offer enticing special events — not just the usual antics with Wool E. Bull, but tunes, specialty brews, and Kids Run the Bases days — the Friday Night Fireworks are especially thrilling, a full Fourth of July-worthy display that kids and adults alike enjoy.

In-person; tickets starting at $11; 409 Blackwell Street, Durham; durham/schedule/2021-08

IMAGINATION BALL August 14 | 6 - 9:30 p.m. Every child should experience the magic of play and curiosity — and thanks to Marbles Kids Museum, many children in Raleigh do. This month the beloved kids museum is hosting their “signature grown-up gala,” the Imagination Ball, both virtually and inperson. Take part in the soiree at your place or theirs with an online auction and streaming program full of games and a sweet dance party soundtrack. In-person and virtual; free to stream or starting at $100 for in-person; 201 E. Hargett Street;

NORTH RALEIGH BACK TO SCHOOL MARKET August 14 | 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Show some school spirit at the North Raleigh Back to School Market, featuring local artists, live music, food trucks, bouncy houses, and vendors selling local produce. Free kids meal tokens will be given to all children who wear their school t-shirts, and there will be an on-site donation center accepting supplies for Abbott’s Creek and Durant Road Elementary Schools. In-person; free; 9500 Durant Road; Search North Raleigh Back to School Market on Facebook

NORTH CAROLINA COURAGE SOCCER MATCHES Aug 15 & 21 | 6 & 7 p.m. If watching the Tokyo Olympics got you fired up, head out to Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park to support the North Carolina Courage and their Olympian-filled roster for in-person games in the National Women’s Soccer League. The defending NWSL Champions are led by captain and four-time New Zealand Olympian Abby Erceg, as well as Team Brazil’s Debinha, and two of Team USA’s own, Sam Mewis and Lynn Williams. In-person; tickets starting at $12; WakeMed Soccer Park, 101 Soccer Park Drive, Cary;

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 23


August 28 | 12 - 10 p.m. Taste your way through the likes of Turkey, Spain, Korea, and Greece at Raleigh’s International Food Festival. The event, which features cuisine from more than a dozen countries, will also include entertainment in all forms, from hip-hop to belly dancing to Zumba. “This festival is wonderful because we provide a platform to promote diversity, understanding, cross-cultural exchange, and respect by sharing food, traditions, and art,” says festival founder Bearta Alchacar. While they are hoping for a full crowd this year (past festivals have garnered more than 20,000 guests), social distancing will be encouraged. In-person; free; 100-200 block of Fayetteville Street;



August 23 | 7 p.m.

Calling musicians of any skill level or instrument: gather ‘round at Transfer Co. Food Hall for a jam session with PineCone. Whether you want to play, sing, or listen, it’s guaranteed to be a special evening. “The community feeling is one thing that makes bluegrass unique,” says Russell Johnson, leader of local bluegrass band Diamond Creek and director of the Carolina Bluegrass Band at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “There are young student musicians from the PineCone Bluegrass Camps, some of my students from the Carolina Bluegrass program, hobbyists, and professionals — a whole lot of folks from a lot of different backgrounds and skill levels, all gathered to make music together.” The monthly jam

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Courtesy PineCone


tradition, which has been around since 2006, restarted in June after a break for the pandemic. “The first night back at the PineCone Bluegrass Jam was special,” says Johnson. “It had been over a year since a lot of these folks got to play music together.” In-person; free; 500 E. Davie Street;


the SAND MAN Ed Moore has made a career as an artist in an unusual medium by AYN-MONIQUE KLAHRE photography by JOSHUA STEADMAN


ou may not know him by name, but you’ve probably seen Ed Moore’s work: gigantic, whimsical sand sculptures that frequently grace downtown street festivals. Moore’s sculptures typically have a sense of humor — ladybugs drinking tea for BugFest, for example, or a bevy of birdhouses for Artsplosure — and are as much fun to watch being made as they are to see as a final product. An architect by trade, Moore was born and bred in Raleigh. “I had a sand pile when I was 2 or 3 years old, and we were always going to the beach,” he says. He’s always had an interest in sculpture as well, working with wood, clay, and metal.

When his two sons were young, they’d work together with a couple of other families to build epic castles and sculptures on Atlantic Beach, just for fun. About 40 years ago, they entered their first contest, held by the Atlantis Lodge, and then they competed a few times at the Neptune Festival in Virginia Beach. “It’s fun to work this way; you’re not doing it just for yourself, but involving others on the beach,” he says. As the kids grew up, the group sessions wound down, but Moore’s interest in sand sculpting continued. He kept competing and widened his circuit, eventually making his way to the International Sand Sculpting Contest in British Columbia, Canada.

He’s now firmly within a small circle of professional sculptors who work on projects together and, sometimes, compete. “I travel all around the country,” says Moore. “I’ve met people from all over the world doing sand sculpture.” Now retired from the building industry, what was once a “serious hobby” has turned into something of an encore career. “Some people play golf, I make sand sculptures,” says Moore, who named his sand sculpting company Sandy Feat. In some ways, architecture and sand sculpture are the same, Moore says: “They are both 3D things and involve work with your hands.” But he likes how sand sculpture is temporary, which allows more room to play and have fun. He also The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 25

Ed Moore, opposite page, and his team work on the sand sculpture for the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores.

enjoys the team aspect of it. “I typically have about four people all working toward the same thing,” he says, “and they’re all great sculptors.” One of his 5- to 15-foot sculptures usually takes days to complete, and Moore often enlists the help of passersby to fill the tower of sand that he’ll carve into. “It’s always fun to get different sorts of artists, like painters, to help me — it’s a new medium for them,” he says. “I love to work with other people and share ideas.” Often, he’ll start with a dump truck full of sand (about 16 tons — but he’s done projects with up to 100), then start shoveling it into an open-bottomed box. He’ll add water, then repeat with boxes on top for what looks like a 26 | WALTER

wedding cake made of sand, then carve into that densely packed sand to make his designs. After decades creating work for the likes of Artsplosure, BugFest, MerleFest, and other events, this past year has been “pretty quiet,” he says. But work is starting to pick up: in June, Moore finished a project for the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, and hopes for more to come this fall. “Ed is an absolute delight!” says Jamie Long McCargo, exhibits director at the aquarium. “In the Octopus’ Garden, he carved not only the octopus itself, but fish and sea turtles with playful expressions. He even added a snorkeling child, whose face emerges from the top

of the wave and flippered foot and bum stick out the back. It brings many smiles to aquarium visitors and I couldn’t help but giggle as Ed happily pointed it out.” Kari Wouk, senior manager of educational collaborations at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, has been working with Moore on BugFest for over a decade. “It’s such a unique and wonderful thing to have a sand sculptor,” she says. “His sculptures are always silly and fun.” Typically, Moore and his team will work on the sculpture for the full day of BugFest, with a sandy area nearby for young ones to “help” as well, then the sculpture stays on display for another two weeks. “Ed’s a talented conceptual artist and



meticulous craftsman,” says Artsplosure executive director Michael Lowder. “His installations are crowd favorites!” Moore says the sand in the southern North Carolina beaches is better for sculpting than in the northern ones — “It’s flatter and has fewer shells.” — but he uses inland sand for work. “Beach sand has been rolled and rounded; it’s like trying to stack a bunch of marbles,” he says. “Inland you find sharp sand, with flat facets that stick together.” While most of us aren’t sculpting sand at his scale, Moore does have some tips for the lay beachside sculptor. The first is that more is more when it comes to water. “Take a bucket full of ocean water, then add about half a bucket’s worth of sand,” he says. “Scoop out that really wet sand and plop it in a pile, and when you have a big, wet block of sand, carve into it.” Just about anything can be a tool, from a sharp piece of shell to a plastic spoon, he says. “You really don’t need a lot of equipment.” Finally, the key to making a sand sculpture look finished, he says, is to “frame” your work. “If you build a little wall around it, people understand that this is your art, and they’re more respectful of it,” he says. That leads to Moore’s golden rule of sand sculpture: “If you didn’t make it, don’t break it.”


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Å Å Å 1116 Broad Street · Publishing Studio & Gallery ART


PS 118 G A L L E R Y 118 West Parrish Street



E V E N T S PA C E Downtown Durham

sparking joy and conversation since 1996 at PS 118

LOOKING OUT, LOOKING IN Drawings, Prints, & Books by Ippy Patterson CLOSING RECEPTION Sat. Aug 21, 3–6pm

Poetry Fox on hand, as well as two musicians from United Strings of Color on cello and viola.

at Broad Street

A CHANGING DURHAM New Paintings & Prints by Kimberly Wheaton CLOSING RECEPTION Thur. Aug 26, 6– 8pm

Tom Merrigan’s Hot Raccoons playing out front. (piano, sax, drums, kazoo, more percussion)

Curated solo and thematic exhibitions amidst rotating works by over 50 established artists and craftspersons from across the Southeast in a range of media and price points, and presented with room to breathe. The galleries feature large amounts of unframed work in print bins and flat file drawers. In addition to Horse & Buggy Press titles, our bookstalls feature artist monographs and select titles by other independent presses. The PS118 stage plays host to literary readings, artist talks, musical performances, trunk shows and more.

Upcoming events/exhibits, online bookstore, and hours at


THRILL of the HUNT The team behind Modern Prolific turned a labor of love into a business by FINN COHEN photography by EAMON QUEENEY


harlie Keeling and Keely Beal have long been familiar faces in downtown Raleigh: Keeling behind the bar at Kings for the last few years, Beal working as a server and barista at Fiction Kitchen, Humble Pie, and Morning Times. And in March


of 2020, the couple took their first vacation since they joined the service industry — sort of. They’d bonded a few years earlier over their love of vintage furniture and design. “When we first started dating, actually, a lot of our dates would involve going out to a flea market or antique

malls, or going around and looking at Mid-century neighborhoods,” says Beal. “It’s something that we’ve always connected on.” As their relationship developed, so did their side hustle. On days off, or before shifts, they’d drive all over the state — or up and down the East Coast — picking out Mid-century

A collaboration between Keel & Company and Aisle3Modern, Modern Prolific focuses on Mid-century furniture, decor, and textiles. Pictured in center: Keely Beal, Matt Williams, and Charlie Keeling.

modern rugs, credenzas, and chairs. “You never know what you’re going to find, which is exciting,” says Beal. As their collections expanded out of a living space and into a storage unit, they started selling their finds on Instagram with the handle Keel & Company, a nod to the shared part of their names. So the vacation they’d planned to Nashville was both a break from pouring drinks and a shopping trip for their budding business. But nature had other plans. “A tornado hit when we were there, and then the first case of Covid appeared in Wake County,” says Keeling. “We came back to no jobs.” The abrupt shutdown forced the couple to reassess their careers. Prepandemic, Keel & Company had been doing increasingly steady business — Keeling was even making enough rug sales to attract the attention of some

serious Persian collectors. With nothing more to lose, they decided to take the plunge and turn their side business into a seven-day-a-week endeavor. “We just quickly realized that nothing’s for certain, and if we were going to do it, we should do it when we had the most time,” says Beal, who was also juggling a full-time undergraduate degree at North Carolina State University in communications (she graduated during the pandemic). “Charlie and I work really great together. It’s a little less scary when you have someone there who is going through the same motions as you.” The two reached out to another team of dealers, Christine Riker and Matt Williams of Aisle3Modern, who had been operating out of the Cheshire Cat Antique Gallery in the Village District. Riker and Williams had been working their way up over three years into

“I’m not trying to get rich, I’m trying to put cool stuff in people’s homes.” — Charlie Keeling

three different booths at Cheshire Cat — they were hungry for more space to grow the business and knew Keeling as someone with complementary tastes. “We’d met them on multiple occasions — you’re acutely aware of the other dealers because you go after the same pieces,” says Riker. “It was a pipe dream for both Charlie and Keely, and for us, to develop our own store.” Together, the four found a space in a building on South Dawson Street and opened Modern Prolific, a 1,700-square-foot showroom and storefront. It has huge ceilings, tons of light, and plenty of room for staging. There are wicker and steel chairs matched with a glass table; Broyhill Brasilia credenzas with ornate drawer pulls; a lamp made from copper rods bent into abstract shapes; a hand-reupholstered, salmon-colored chaise lounge; and glass sculptures set against matching, brightly colored wall art. Inside Modern Prolific, a waist-high, late-1970s brass-and-marble sculpture on the floor is listed for $695 — but the same piece on an auction website is nearly $3,000. “The hardest part about The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 29

this job is pricing,” says Keeling. “I’m not trying to get rich, I’m trying to put cool stuff in people’s homes. Six, seven hundred dollars is a lot for a sculpture — but if I was in New York or L.A., it would be many times that.” As the market for Mid-century goods has expanded over the past couple decades, the pool of items has shrunk, giving way to the old law of supply and demand. “It’s surprised everybody that’s been doing this for a very long time how quickly it has changed, and how much more expensive it has become to procure the items that we sell,” says Riker. “We’ll go to auctions with companies that have been selling us goods for decades — they’ll make jokes and say, 10 or 15 years ago, we couldn’t give this stuff away!” These days, Williams and Riker travel nearly every week to find new pieces, from the Deep South up to the

Canadian border, with the same picker mentality as the brand’s origins. These road trips are a tricky calculus of time, distance, and investment. “Every time we buy something, we’re trying to figure out whether or not we can make money,” says Riker. “You can’t drive 700 miles and spend the money on fuel and accommodations and everything else if it won’t sell for enough to cover your expenses.” But that balancing act underscores another old law: the one about risk and reward. There’s no telling what’s under the rocks that no one’s bothered to look at yet. “It was a huge gamble,” says Keeling. But the gamble, Beal says, is worth it: “To find these pieces that are so special that are just sitting somewhere getting damaged, in someone’s basement no longer being appreciated — it’s amazing to be able to do that.”


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Donovan Alexander Watson

HOME GROWN Once a stand for garden extras, Perkins Orchard now supports the local farming community by MIRANDA EVON


photography by JOE PELLEGRINO

t 4 years old, Donovan Alexander Watson would watch his grandfather carry cucumbers and tomatoes from his garden up to a row of wooden shelves at the end of their driveway. There, passersby could take what they wanted and drop a donation in a box. “I remember the joy I felt as the kid at that fruit stand,” says Watson, who’s now in his 20s. “I’d come home from

school and help customers at the stand in between homework assignments.” The Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Perkins first opened his fruit stand as a hobby, a way to pass along excess produce. Dr. Perkins served as a pastor at the historic First Baptist Church in Apex and founded the Apex School of Theology. His wife, Dr. Carrie Perkins, worked as an educator. The fruit stand was an extension of their ethos: to share their bounty with those around them. The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 31

Scenes from inside Perkins Orchard, where Donovan Alexander Watson and staff interact with customers.

It was also a bit of an anomaly. Located off Barbee Road in southeast Durham, about a mile off I-40, the stand marked the edge of a wooded lot in a neighborhood of modest homes on cul-de-sacs, a bit of rural living sandwiched in the suburbs. But over time, the fruit stand became a destination in itself. Dr. Perkins expanded his garden, planting fruit trees and grapevines. He created an orchard that wrapped around the house; it bore apples, pears, cherries, and plums. And as the stand’s popularity grew, so did Dr. Perkins’ relationship with both his customers and nearby farmers; soon, he began offering overflow fruits and vegetables from other growers, as well. But even with its growing inventory, the produce stand ran on an honor system for 42 years. Watson took over managing the stand when he turned 10, stocking produce, collecting money from customers who had arrived while he was at school, and tending to the orchard. “I learned the importance of making locally grown and sourced produce readily available to the community,” he says. As Watson grew older, so did his responsibilities — alongside his ambitions for the fruit stand. At 14 years old, he got a tax ID so he could write and sign checks to the farmers who

sold their produce there. When he graduated from C. E. Jordan High School in 2012, he relocated and expanded the produce stand, moving it to an area deeper inside their property, near the house, where there was more space. The Perkins fruit stand became Perkins Orchard. Since then, Perkins Orchard has grown into a thriving business that supports 300 farmers from 12 states (most of them are inside North Carolina). “If you support Perkins, you support local farmers as well,” says Watson. He tracks what people buy and ask for, and passes that information on to his producers. “They don’t grow the entire alphabet hoping we buy every single thing — this is more sustainable.” Today, dozens of wooden stalls live within an airy fretwork of lattice and wooden panels painted a chipper lime-green. Depending on the season, piled-high bins greet customers with countless varieties of apples, peaches, mushrooms, and more. In the summer, you’ll find yellow and orange watermelons, peppers, and zucchini; come November and December, they stock Christmas trees. There are four large stands surrounding the main shopping area, and palm trees shade the open-air market. “Perkins Orchard is a hidden gem in Durham,” says employee

“Perkins Orchard is a hidden gem in Durham. It’s an excellent place for customers to mingle and take advantage of great deals while shopping locally.” – Angel Duff


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Angel Duff. “It’s an excellent place for customers to mingle and take advantage of great deals while shopping locally.” Last year, Watson expanded even more, creating an indoor area called the Orchard Club to house farm-raised meats, eggs, local cheeses, and jams, plus fish, coffee, and baked goods. Watson loves bringing all types of vendors together under one roof. “All of this beautifully co-exists with the fruit orchard on the west side of my house,” says Watson. Perkins Orchard is one of few farmers markets open daily with extended hours. And there’s the fan-favorite $20 bag deal, which allows customers to fill a peck bag to the brim with any produce on the stand. “As long as it grows, it goes,” says Watson, who often throws in a freebie like a pint of blueberries or a handful of herbs to top it off. “Whenever I’m in Durham, I make sure to stop by Perkins for peaches or whatever’s in season,” says Tracey Evans, a regular to Perkins Orchard for years who still remembers Watson as a child, helping his grandfather at the roadside stand. Dr. Perkins passed away in 2018, but he lived long enough to see his grandson turn his legacy into a business that supports both their family and the community. Watson’s grandmother says she is still “in awe” of the orchard’s continued growth. Watson himself is proud that he’s been able to continue and expand the family business. “A day does not go by that I don’t think about that small produce stand in my driveway,” says Watson. “Simpler times and humble beginnings. That is how Perkins Orchard came to be what it is today.”

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del-(ISH)-ious Matt Fern envisions a delicatessen that blends cultures and cuisines by CATHERINE CURRIN


’ve always wanted to own something fun and creative,” says Matt Fern, whose muchanticipated new restaurant on Person Street combines some of his favorite foods and best dining memories from growing up in upstate New York. “My vision for (ish) delicatessen is kind of an amalgam of cultures and cuisines: Jewish, Italian, and Southern.” If Fern’s name seems familiar, it’s because he’s a fixture in Raleigh’s foodand-drink scene — if you’ve toasted on The Longleaf Hotel patio, sipped wine 34 | WALTER

photography by JOSHUA STEADMAN

with your fried chicken at Beasley’s, or celebrated at Death & Taxes, he’s been the man behind the beverage. Fern moved to Raleigh in 2003 (he also lived here for a brief stint in 1995), bouncing around as a server at restaurants like 518 West and Vivace before landing a gig selling wine at Seaboard Wine Warehouse. “Seaboard was a huge springboard for me — I started to get the bug,” Fern says. Part of his job included traveling to Europe for wine buying trips, and it sparked something. “I remember sitting at a winery and watching the winemaker

get so excited and passionate about wine. I thought, Wine is going to be something I work with for the rest of my life.” This love and knowledge of wine — Fern is a Level 2 certified sommelier — plus his natural warmth led to a connection with chef Ashley Christensen. In 2003, when he was working at 518 West, she was cooking nearby at the now-closed Enoteca Vin. “I used to take meetings and lunches there, and Fern was the most welcoming hospitality pro,” says Christensen. “He knew when to give you space and when you needed to feel a little more

at home at his bar. That’s a gift.” That friendship led to bartending a Christmas party for the staff at Poole’s Diner (like any good restaurant holiday party, Fern says, it took place in April). After that, Christensen says, she had to have him on the team at Poole’s. “I couldn’t get it out of my brain… and from that point on, I was determined to try to get him to come work at Poole’s,” she says. “Or at least, to figure out, how do we make people feel as welcome at Poole’s as Fern made people feel at that party at my house?” She got him to take on a few shifts as a server at Poole’s, and soon he was curating their wine list. By 2009, Fern was named general manager of Poole’s, followed by beverage director for AC Restaurant Group, then as a partner in Poole’s. Fern says one of his proudest moments while working with AC Restaurant Group was training the Beasley’s staff. “I got the staff at a fried chicken joint so excited about wine, and now a few of them have passed the Level 2 sommelier,” Fern says. “You can’t teach people everything about wine, you have to teach them what’s possible and get them excited.” A close second, he says, is the wine cellar he designed alongside Christensen at Death & Taxes, in a space that had previously been a bank vault. Christensen credits his influence in the success of her restaurant group. “Fern running our beverage program helped folks to understand that Raleigh has what it takes to be a part of the broader conversation,” says Christensen. “Nothing has made either of us prouder than the cooks and bartenders and managers who took a chance on this city we love. It’s the good stuff.” Despite his successful tenure with Christensen, Fern couldn’t get the delicatessen he’d been dreaming of out of his head. Soon after leaving AC Restaurants in 2016, Fern started to work on the first iteration of (ish) delicatessen — one that would replicate some of his favorite dining experiences from growing up.

Opposite page: Matt Fern. Above: Fern’s Pastrami Reuben, step by step.

“A deli’s never stuffy, it always feels like you’re home,” says Fern. “That’s what I’m excited about making.” In Fern’s mind, the word (ish) aligns with his idea that there are so many different versions of a deli or delicatessen: “Some people think a deli is Katz’s, some think it’s the corner bodega, others picture the sandwich counter at Harris Teeter or a chain like Jason’s. And no one is wrong!” he says. “I’ve always felt the playfulness that (ish) provides lets us make it whatever kind of delicatessen we want to. The goal has always been to mix the classics with something a little off the wall — and these two words together, (ish) and delicatessen, really allow for that.” But the first two locations fell through — one at the investment stage, another when the building had to be torn down

for structural reasons. “Good thing we chose the name (ish) — if we were to have named it after a street or address number, the name would have changed four times by now,” Fern laughs. Meanwhile, Fern got looped into working on the beverage program for The Longleaf Hotel, where he created the menu and ran the Lounge at The Longleaf. Then the pandemic hit, and a beloved spot in Oakwood, The Pharmacy Cafe, closed its doors (you can now find the folks from Pharmacy at the Farmhouse Cafe in Wendell). For Fern, it was the opportunity he’d been waiting for: “I’ve lived in the neighborhood for years, and there’s just such neat stuff happening over here. It’s pretty cool to be right near so much history.” The initial (ish) delicatessen menu consists of lunchtime fare like sandThe Art & Soul of Raleigh | 35

wiches, salads, soups, and sides, plus a few starters and desserts. A Fern-curated wine and beer list is also on offer in the 30-seater joint. The menu mashes up various food traditions, including Southern staples, Jewish classics, and Italian-American favorites. There’s the Matzo Boy, a twist on the Southern Po’ boy that swaps fried seafood for matzo balls, best known in the Jewish tradition for their role in the Passover seder meal. “This is our spin on a starchy sandwich,” says Fern. “The matzo ball will be seared in chicken fat, covered in cheese and a lemony-herb remoulade, all served on a crusty bread.” And the Sloppy SPO, a hybrid of a Sloppy Joe and the American-Italian classic combo of sausage, peppers, and onions. “The pork stock is thickened like gravy — it’s bonkers,” he says. Or consider Fern’s riff on the Reuben, which uses corned ham (an eastern N.C. tradition), chow-chow to replace sauerkraut, plus local cheese


and a homemade Russian dressing. “I love being a sounding board when he nerds out on these amazing ideas,” says Christensen, “and trust me, they are amazing.” The menu also includes some classic deli items, like a traditional pastrami-and-

sauerkraut Reuben on custom rye from Boulted Bread, homemade potato chips, chicken salad, and three types of potato salad. “There’s no one formula for a deli,” says Fern. “It’s an amazing hodgepodge of things that go in between two pieces of bread or get scooped onto a plate.” The fast-casual joint spent the summer staffing up and building momentum with pop-ups around downtown and Person Street, and will eventually serve three meals a day. Fern also plans to provide the food program for The Longleaf Hotel, including bar snacks and breakfast items. Fitting with its name, the delicatessen means something different to everyone — but Fern’s main ingredients, the care and passion that he puts into any hospitality experience, are sure to shine through. “Fern has been diving so deep into creating the deli experience that has been missing from Raleigh,” says Christensen. “I believe (ish) will quickly become a national culinary treasure.”






LIFE in TUNE In the Freelon family, music is a means to share stories of life and loss by DAVID MENCONI photography by SAMANTHA EVERETTE


he Freelons have long been considered the first family of Durham’s artistic community, in many ways serving as the face of the city. Matriarch Nnenna Freelon, 67, has amassed six Grammy nominations through a stellar career as a jazz singer. Her late husband Phil, a renowned

architect, designed landmark buildings including the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., and the Gregg Museum of Art & Design at his alma mater North Carolina State University. Their son Deen is an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and daughter Maya

is a visual artist. Their other son Pierce is both a Durham City Council representative and an acclaimed hip-hop artist. Despite the charmed-life appearances, however, the Freelons have endured a lifetime of loss in recent years. Both Nnenna and Pierce have turned to music to heal and record the hard times as well The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 37

as the good, a family affair all the way around. These dark years started with Phil’s death from ALS in July 2019. Just six months later, Nnenna’s younger sister Debbie Pierce died from cancer. In the shadow of those losses, Nnenna’s latest album Time Traveler (her first in more than a decade) stands as both fond remembrance and bittersweet wake for the departed. “This is what we call life, I guess,” Nnenna says. “It’s tough, but it’s good, too. There’s no soft-pedaling it or pretending everything’s cool because it’s not what I asked for. But it has come with some gifts, too. Art has saved me — singing, writing, reflecting. It’s been a period of growth. I have to take it a day at a time, and

there are days I don’t feel so lucky.” This summer found Nnenna launching a new podcast, Great Grief, which hosts a series of conversations that extend the Time Traveler album’s themes of loss and mourning. She describes the album as a “sonic love letter,” with a tracklist focused on covers of many of her husband’s old favorites by the likes of The Stylistics, Marvin Gaye, and Dionne Warwick. Always an impeccable singer, Nnenna shows a newfound depth and edge here. “Nnenna embodies words and music from a very visceral space,” says Jaki Shelton Green, North Carolina’s poet laureate. She enlisted Freelon to sing on the title track of her own 2020 album, The River Speaks of Thirst. “She speaks truths about grief and sor-

“Art has saved me — singing, writing, reflecting. It’s been a period of growth. I have to take it a day at a time, and there are days I don’t feel so lucky.” –Nnenna Freelon


row and joy, and how it’s all such a big stew together. She is definitely the songbird unraveling all that, and she does it so beautifully with this new tribute.” During his illness, Phil jokingly referred to his ALS as A Love Supreme, after the late-career masterpiece by North Carolina-born saxophone icon John Coltrane. Phil himself is actually heard on Time Traveler, which Pierce helped produce. During caregiving stints for his father, Pierce spent a lot of time looking through and organizing family archives of recordings, pictures, and videos. That included recorded messages that Phil left behind, which are on the Time Traveler title track. This trove of family material also led to Pierce’s current musical identity. After years fronting the hip-hop jazz group The Beast, he has lately made two outstanding children’s albums, 2020’s D.a.D and this year’s Black to the Future. And they don’t necessarily qualify as “solo” albums, because his own kids are prominently featured in both. “It was moving to participate in creating [Time Traveler],” Pierce says. “And in

looking through everything, I found so many gems, hooks, and song ideas. All that, plus a decade of being a parent myself, coalesced into an album, D.a.D. It turned out so well, we did another one.” While previous albums had touched on parenting, this one embraces his current role. “For my entire career, it’s always been music about my life,” he says. “So much of my life now is about being a parent, so it makes sense.” Fittingly, mom appears on Black to the Future to make it a three-generation family affair. Nnenna sings the opening track, “No One Exactly Like You,” a song she wrote more than 30 years ago on a teaching gig in Brunswick. “Pierce has come full circle back into the family vibe with this heartwarming, family-oriented approach,” says Nnenna. “It’s pretty awesome.” “They always come back to the way they used to be, these children,” Nnenna says. “They go into the world, then they come back and retain something so sweet and elementary and beautiful. I’m proud of all my kids, they’ve all done amazing things.” The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 39

CREATORS Raimee and Rebecca Sorensen

totally BLAWESOME A flower farm where miracles bloom, year-round by WILEY CASH photography by MALLORY CASH


n a lush four acres of land nestled between Chapel Hill and the Haw River, 24-year-old Raimee Sorensen spends his days growing, harvesting, assembling, and delivering stunning bouquets and custom flower arrangements. According to his mother, Rebecca, “He emanates joy.” The oldest of three siblings, Raimee works alongside Rebecca and a small, devoted team of farmers. It’s clear that everyone at Blawesome flower farm is

dedicated to two things: delivering highquality, organically grown flowers to the waiting hands of their customers and ensuring that everyone on the farm has the opportunity to live and work to their full potential, including Raimee, who has a diagnosis of autism and epilepsy. “When given the opportunity to be amazing and successful,” says Rebecca, “folks with disabilities will rise to meet that challenge. If we are able to provide more opportunities for folks with disabilities to be successful, then I think

we would see a moral shift in our communities.” And farming is certainly challenging. “There are always opportunities to problem solve,” Rebecca says. “It’s very cerebral work.” In the morning, Raimee looks at his check list and gets to work, deciding how much preservative solution to add to which type of flower and what kind of tool is necessary to harvest each variety. “And when he takes his bouquets out into the world, he gets the confirmation of, you’re a wonderThe Art & Soul of Raleigh | 41

ful farmer, and you grow amazing things,” Rebecca adds. From season to season, Raimee’s knowledge and confidence have grown, and Rebecca has seen the skills he’s learned on the farm transfer to other areas of his life. For example, when they host tours and workshops on the farm, Raimee is able to share his knowledge about what’s going on in each production zone, and if someone asks a question, it’s Raimee, who has challenges with expressive and receptive language, who often chooses to answer it. Before starting the farm, the Sorensens homeschooled Raimee for eight years, and during that time, they set up community internships where he could explore a number of opportunities while building varying sets of skills. He particularly excelled at a community farm where he volunteered for four years. He enjoyed being outdoors and working alongside others. Eventually, the Sorensens enrolled Raimee in a charter school specifically geared toward students with disabilities, but when the school abruptly shut down, they realized they needed to find an opportunity 42 | WALTER

for him to achieve his greatest sense of independence. Better yet, they would create one. Initially, the Sorensens’ decisions were practical. They had a ¼-acre strip of land alongside their driveway, and based on how Raimee performed in his work at the community farm, they decided to cultivate the small area into a flower garden. After all, he was good at growing things, and he enjoyed connecting with the community. What better way to connect with others than by putting fresh flowers in their hands?

“I don’t know if people understand how completely consuming farming is. It’s a lifestyle.” — Rebecca Sorensen Raimee was not the only Sorensen with a background in farming and a love for flowers. Rebecca grew up in rural northeastern Pennsylvania with a father who was an avid gardener. In high

school, she worked at and eventually managed a greenhouse, and later, on the other side of the country, she worked at an organic farm, growing peppers and houseplants in greenhouses in Oregon. She felt confident that she and Raimee could turn this small plot of land beside their house into a successful venture that would allow them to explore their interests and talents. And then the four-acre lot next door went up for sale. Rebecca and Raimee’s vision for what they could do grew, and the family shifted again. After purchasing the land, Rebecca applied for a micro-enterprise grant. The initial grant was for $5,000 but after completing the application, she learned that more money was available. She went back to the drawing board, carefully envisioning a project and wrote a proposal that eventually won a $50,000 state grant from the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. The shift had happened. The Sorensens were now owners of land that would become a flower farm, and all they had to do was build it. Working with a team of land specialists

and local farmers, the Sorensens grew intimately familiar with their new land, working to create a plan that was realistic in terms of what they could grow and harvest with their small crew. At the same time, Rebecca, whose background is in social work, was traveling the state, leading workshops on affordable housing for adults with mental illnesses. She met an architect from Elon University whose son had a diagnosis, and he suggested that they work on a project together. He went on to design the barn on the Sorensens’ new property, and he brought out teams of university students to help construct it. He would later design the home where Raimee and a supportedliving provider live. Blawesome was born, and the flower farm that began on a small strip of land beside the family’s driveway grew into a working farm that provides fresh flowers for everything from weddings to businesses, plus events at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. But no matter how much the Sorensens had been willing and able to shift over the years, COVID presented an incredible challenge. They lost national contracts with huge corporations. Weddings were canceled, and the university moved nearly all of its business online. But people still wanted flowers, and Blawesome met that need. Individual orders soared, as did memberships in their CSA, which provides seasonal flowers year-round to subscribers. “The community just came out and lifted us up in a way we could’ve never anticipated,” Rebecca says. “It was extraordinary.” That says a lot coming from someone who has seen extraordinary things happen, both in her family and in her community. Raimee took medication for obsessive compulsive disorder for eight years, and then he was able to stop taking it one year after starting the farm. He has epilepsy, but according to Rebecca, he’s had only one seizure in the same time span. “You can pull Raimee’s Medicaid file for the past four years and see that he has not accessed

any of the services he used to access since we started the farm, because he’s happier and healthier than he’s ever been,” she says. Both Raimee and the farm are thriving. “A lot of people in his situation don’t get told how special they are,” she adds. But it is hard work, and the work never stops. “I don’t know if people understand how completely consuming farming is. It’s a lifestyle,” Rebecca says. “I like that for Raimee because it’s every part of his day. There’s not any time

when he’s not thinking about it or planning for it or anticipating something, but it’s pretty miraculous to be part of something that is a living, breathing organism. I feel like I’m surrounded by miracles all the time.” Wiley Cash is the writer-in-residence at the University of North Carolina-Asheville. His new novel, When Ghosts Come Home, will be released this year. He and his wife, photographer Mallory Cash, are traveling across North Carolina to meet creatives. The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 43


Miss Mully’s Garden It may be unfinished, but what in life is not?


hen COVID-19 shut down the world as we know it last year, I decided this was a sign from on high to finish building my backyard shade garden. The cosmic joke, as any gardener worth his composted cow poop knows, is that, while no garden is ever really finished, it may well finish (off ) the gardener. That said, I set myself a goal to have the garden fully laid out and growing by the time the dog days of August rolled around. Beneath ancient white oaks, I began to see elegant stone pathways winding through beds of cool ferns, colorful hostas and other shade-loving trees and plants — the ideal place to sit and read a book when the oppressive heat of late summer lays upon us. You might say I worked like a dog — and with a dog — from February to July, hoping to get the job done. After clearing out the last of the weeds and some forlorn, overgrown shrubs of the property’s former owner, I drew up plans and constantly revised them, laying out pathways and building beds for young plants. Alas, August is here, and while I toiled and toiled away, my ambitious shade garden is yet unfinished. Still, my old dog, Mulligan, never missed a day of work. She’s 16, either deaf or simply uninterested in whatever her owner


has to say. We’ve been together since I found her running wild and free in a park where I’d just given a talk at a festival, a joyous black pup with the happiest eyes I’d ever seen. Workers in the park told me she was a stray that nobody could catch, had been around for weeks, either a runaway or a pup someone simply dumped. She was living off garbage and small critters she chased down in the woods. The girl was a hunter. To this day, I’m not sure whether I found her or she found me. She raced past me as I was preparing to leave, heading back for the woods across a busy highway where I’d seen her cross into the park an hour before, somehow just missing the wheels of a truck. I simply called out, “Hey, you! Black streak! Come here.” Something remarkable happened. The pup stopped, looked back, then ran straight into my arms. I named her Mulligan, a second-chance dog. Mully, for short. We’ve been together ever since. Any time I’m working in the garden, she’s there. Every trip to the plant nursery, the grocery store, or any errand around town, she’s along for the ride. It’s been like this for a decade and a half. She’s my constant travel pal — my best friend and the best dog ever — always ready to hit the road.

Jim Dodson


Four years ago, Miss Mully was along for the ride when I started down the Great Wagon Road for a book about the Colonial Era “highway” that a couple hundred thousand ScotsIrish, English, and German immigrants, including all three wings of my family, took to this part of the world during the 18th Century. As I laid out this long-planned journey in my mind, Mully and I would simply breeze down the mythic road together from Philadelphia to Georgia over the span of three or four weeks, meeting colorful characters, diving into frontier history and gathering untold tales from America’s original immigrant highway. The book would almost write itself. I’d finish it in no time flat.

“We all have unfinished business. We are all works in progress.” Evidently, God and wives both laugh when foolish men make plans, to paraphrase an old Yiddish proverb. From the beginning, my wife, Wendy, thought it would take me five years to complete my mighty road book. She was right. Ditto God. Like my backyard shade garden, my mighty road tale is not yet finished. The sweeping scope of its history and people, not to mention the motherlode of remarkable folks Miss Mully and I encountered along the road, argued for a much deeper dive and more thorough approach to my subject. An unplanned bit of plumbing surgery and a worldwide pandemic that shut down the globe for more than a year hardly helped shrink the time horizon. But that’s life. We all have unfinished business. We are all works in progress. With a little luck and continued work, I hope to complete both my book and my backyard garden around the same time, maybe by Thanksgiving. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I understand that the day is growing late for my old dog and her master. She still walks a mile with us every morning, and her dark eyes still shine with the happiest light. Every afternoon, she takes a slow walk around the garden as if inspecting my work or memorizing the plants. I often catch her just sitting alone in the middle of the garden, thinking God knows what. For the moment, our journey together is unfinished. But someday I hope to sit in the middle of Miss Mully’s Garden, reading a book and thinking God knows what, too. Something tells me that won’t be the end of the journey. Maybe just the beginning. Claren W Englebreth, AAMS®

Jim Dodson is the New York Times bestselling author of Final Rounds: A Father, A Son, The Golf Journey Of A Lifetime. He lives in Greensboro. IRT-1848F-A

Financial Advisor 4301 Lake Boone Trl Suite 206 Raleigh, NC 27607 919-615-0054 Member SIPC


Torch Bearer by COLONY LITTLE


first met Anna Cooper while getting coffee one Saturday afternoon in January. I was about two blocks away from the Old City Cemetery on North East Street and East Edenton when our paths crossed at a historical marker that read: Anna J. Cooper 1858-1964 Educator, orator, & early black feminist. Graduate, St. Augustine’s. Author, A Voice from the South (1892). Grave 2½ blks. S.

One hundred and five years. That alone gave me pause as I imagined a life lived between the bookends of slavery and civil rights. Bounded by these two momentous chapters in American history, Anna Julia Cooper established herself as a writer, an activist, and a lifelong learner dedicated to education and service. The historical marker was one hell of an elevator pitch. I admit the manner in which I made her acquaintance was unorthodox. But in that moment, finding myself in the presence of her memory was a gift. First impressions are fleeting, yet the six short lines of her historical marker challenged me to learn more. Since that initial meeting, I found a copy of A Voice from the South: By a Black Woman of the South; Cooper’s writing connected me to an important element of Raleigh’s history that had previously been hidden. Since that afternoon in January, Cooper has serendipitously reappeared to me in many forms. Her life’s story is a gift that I will gladly pay forward to anyone who hasn’t yet had the pleasure to meet this phenomenal woman. 46 | WALTER

Anna Julia Cooper (née Haywood) was born into slavery in Raleigh in 1858 and died in Washington, D.C., in 1964. In those intervening years she was educated at Saint Augustine’s University, where as a child she tutored and taught classes before the age of 14. She was one of the first African American women to earn a degree from Oberlin College in 1884; in 1888, she earned

This page: NC State Achives; Opposite page: courtesy of the United States Postal Service

Anna Cooper has serendipitously appeared to me in many forms — and her life’s story is a gift that I will gladly pay forward

a Master’s degree in mathematics from thought. As Cooper explains in an essay Oberlin, and in 1925, Cooper received titled “The Status of Woman in America”: her doctorate at the College of SorThe colored woman of to-day occupies, one bonne in Paris. As a published writer, may say, a unique position in this country. In Cooper was an ardent supporter of a period itself transitional and unsettled, her Black feminism, publishing one of the status seems one of the least ascertainable earliest texts that identified the unique and definitive of all the forces which make intersectional issues Black women for our civilization. She is confronted by both faced fighting for equality and suffrage a woman question and a race problem and while being relegated to tertiary footis as yet an unknown or an unacknowledged notes in the struggle for civil rights. factor in both. While her numerous accomplishments privileged her access among the rarHer unflinching critiques of Black efied circles of Black intellectual elites, men and white suffragettes were groundher activism and unwavering thirst for breaking and radical for the time, and she knowledge would only be quenched rendered these critiques with the intenthrough her unselfish acts of service. tion of collective uplift versus destructive, For Cooper, love was epitomized selfish gain: “Only the Black Woman can by her mother, Hannah Stanley say ‘when and where I enter, in the quiet, Anna Cooper was selected by the Postal Haywood. In Cooper’s autobiographundisputed dignity of my womanhood, Service as the subject of the 32nd stamp ical accounts of her childhood, she without violence and without suing or in the Black Heritage series. described her mother as “the finest special patronage, then and there the woman I have ever known.” Both whole Negro race enters with me.’” mother and daughter were enslaved, As a prolific writer, Cooper opined on and looming over Cooper’s parentage was the reality behind issues relating to religion, equality, and education. Her point of her paternal lineage — her father was likely their owner, view on higher education for African Americans was deemed Fabius J. Haywood Sr. The question of paternity was held in controversial among the prevailing schools of thought epitosecret and shame, and Cooper could only rely on conjecture as mized by Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois. During the closest measure of certainty. Despite this, Cooper thrived Reconstruction, strategies for achievement and economic under her mother’s care, receiving a scholarship from an Epis- liberation were bifurcated between Washington’s philosophy copal priest to attend Saint Augustine’s Normal School and of industrial education and Du Bois’ theory of exceptionalism. Collegiate Institute as one of the school’s earliest pupils. “That Cooper’s ability to parse out the intersectional issues of racism school was my world during the formative period, the most and sexism that prevented Black women from traversing either critical in any girl’s life,” wrote Cooper in her book. path led her to champion both. As an educational leader, CooCooper’s experience with Saint Augustine’s became the foun- per facilitated access to higher education and industrial trades dation for her teaching ethos, as she wrote: “to hold a torch for during her tenure as the principal of the M Street High School the children of a group too long exploited and too frequently in Washington, D.C., one of the largest college preparatory disparaged in its struggling for the light.” She married George schools for Black students in the nation. She also championed A.G. Cooper at 19 and became a widow at age 21, at which time access to higher education at elite schools such as Brown, Harshe left Raleigh to attend Oberlin College in Ohio. While she vard, and Yale Universities. Her support of liberal arts through did not have biological children, Cooper fostered nieces and college preparatory coursework was controversial and led to nephews and nurtured countless young minds, offering them philosophical fissures among her peers that culminated in her the same pathways to education that were afforded to her at ousting as president. Undaunted, she pursued other adminisa young age. As an educator, Cooper taught French, German, trative roles in education and ultimately returned to teaching. Greek, Latin, and mathematics. Early in her academic pursuits, It was during this time she earned her doctorate degree at the Cooper was discouraged from studying Greek and other fields Sorbonne, at the age of 67. that were assumed to fall within the purview of her male counCooper traveled to Europe for the first time in her 40s, to terparts. It was at Saint Augustine’s where Cooper first expeattend the first Pan-African Congress in London and the 1900 rienced the double bind of racism and sexism that prompted Paris Exposition, also known as the World’s Fair. This initial soher intellectual exploration of intersectionality. This work later journ in Europe led to frequent trips abroad in the early 1900s, evolved into womanism and Black feminist theories popularpreceding the mass migration of African Americans to Paris ized by writers like Alice Walker and Barbara Christian, who during World War I. Her affinity for studying and traveling continued to radically expand the narrow scope of feminist abroad was likely due in part to the support she obtained for The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 47

pursuing her doctorate overseas, compared with the limitations placed on her when she pursued advanced degrees in the United States. It certainly raises questions about how she experienced freedom in the U.S. and abroad. Ironically, a clue to this question of freedom can be found on page 27 of all U.S. passports, which includes this quote from Cooper in its design: “The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect, a party or a class — it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity.” As symbolic keys to discovery, passports unlock the mysteries that lie beyond our shores. The presence of Cooper’s quote in the U.S. Passport is a powerful testament to her dedication to the pursuit of knowledge. I recently stumbled on the quote when I used my own passport to obtain a North Carolina driver’s license. Remember when I said that Cooper reappeared to me numerous times? When I received my temporary license, someone told me, “Congratulations, you’re a North Carolinian now.” Ms. Cooper welcomed me with her words and her enduring legacy. The prologue to her life’s story was one of bondage, while her epilogue was one of freedom. Her unyielding quest for knowledge is a journey that I will gladly continue to pursue in her honor. What started out as a chance encounter has turned into a most unexpected mentorship. Through her life’s work, Cooper provided me with another prism through which I can view the world, revealing the countless women whose lives have been overshadowed by voices that were louder with perspectives that were deemed more powerful and influential than theirs. Despite this, these women continued their work, remaining steadfastly committed to selfless service. When I catch myself comparing my work to others, I’m reminded of the simple words of encouragement from one of my living mentors: “Just do the work.” Unbound from these self-imposed constraints, I am free to create and explore. To me, Cooper also represents a legacy of support and sacrifice handed down for generations through our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, and sister-friends who nurture our families and communities. That historical marker was an introduction I will never forget. Anna J. Cooper introduced me to a part of Raleigh’s history that could have remained a footnote; instead she left behind a rich trove of knowledge and insight to anyone who’s willing to sit and listen. This article originally appeared in BOS Magazine, the publication of Raleigh’s Black Oak Society. Learn more at


Earlier this year, in the midst of global lockdowns, pandemic fatigue, and an unprecedented sense of loss, we asked three North Carolina authors — Frances Mayes, Etaf Rum, and Daniel Wallace — to share their tales of our brave new, old world. Offering glimpses of resilience, hope, fear, transformation, and what-ifs, each piece is an exploration of freedom and the mystery of the human spirit.

Read on for two works of fiction and one memoir that open our eyes, minds, and hearts through incomparable storytelling.

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 49

The World is Still the World by DANIEL WALLACE illustrations by LYUDMILA TOMOVA



n our last day at the beach the sun came out, and the fog, which for that whole week had draped the shore in a veil of cotton, burned away: we discovered there was an ocean here, after all. It wasn’t blue, really, closer to black, but when the waves flattened out across the beach, the water was perfectly clear and full of minnows and tiny crabs. The shells were just so-so, mostly shards of something that used to be beautiful, like ancient pottery washed up from the ocean floor, there to remind you the world was old. I’d like to say that these discoveries inspired in us a recognition of our own mortality, but the truth was it just felt good to have the sun on our shoulders as my wife and I — so young, newlyweds in fact — walked across the warming sand, hand in hand. She was wearing a black two-piece, simple and very small, and so striking that even the women we passed couldn’t help but stare. Her hair (thick and chocolate brown) was in pigtails, and somehow this girlish maneuver heightened her brazen but effortless display of pure, glorious womanhood. I was invisible in the best possible way. “I’m glad our honeymoon wasn’t ruined,” she said.

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I stopped walking and looked at her. “I didn’t know it was even close to being ruined,” I said. “We’ve made love like a hundred times, read three novels and watched an entire season of The Walking Dead. That’s almost perfect.” “Yeah,” she said. “I didn’t mean ruined. But you can’t go back and tell people that it was foggy and it rained the whole time and you read and watched TV. It sounds gloomy.” “You skipped the part about making love.” “Because you can’t tell people that.” “No,” I said. “Let’s tell them it was sunny every day and we swam with the dolphins.” “But that would be wrong,” she said, and we laughed. Somehow this had become a joke: saying but that would be wrong after every wrong thing we talked about doing. I have no idea why or how, but it was hilarious to us, just to us, the way that something that clearly


isn’t funny becomes funny for reasons impossible to explain. “That being said, I’ll totally never forget that ride we took on the humpback whale.” “Because it’s unforgettable. We’ll tell our kids about that.” “Little Johnny and Marie.” “I thought we’d settled on Zeus and Hera?” “I just think that might put too much pressure on them, honey.” I slapped my forehead, and a few grains of sand fell into my eyes. “Of course, you’re right. Why did I never think about that? Sometimes I feel like I knew nothing until we met.” Pause. “At least I know you’re a goddess.” She squeezed my hand. “Keep ’em coming,” she said. “Don’t worry. We’re good for the next ten years at least.” “Whoa. You stockpile flatteries?” “Flatteries are my specialty.” “Oh no,” she said, in a husky whisper,

knocking against me with her shoulder. “No, they’re not.” How long had we been walking? I had no idea. I stopped and looked behind us: I couldn’t see our hotel or any landmark at all. Civilization had disappeared behind the curve of the shore. I could imagine that we were on a deserted island, looking toward the horizon for a rescue we knew would never come. I don’t know what she was thinking, but she had that faraway look in her eyes as well, and as I looked into them (her eyes were the color of ivy), the tail end of a wave chilled my toes. I almost gasped it was so cold. She turned to me. “I’m going in,” she said. “No way.” “I could never live with myself if I went to the beach and didn’t get in. I would be ashamed for the rest of my life. You’re coming in, too.” “I don’t think so.”

“You’re my husband now,” she said. “You have to. It was in our vows.” “Those vows were ambiguous.” “On purpose, just for occasions such as this.” She let go of my hand and took a deep breath, girding herself. I took a step toward the water myself, but with her hand on my stomach, she held me back. “I’m first in,” she said. “I’m always first in. Ever since I was little. That’s what I want on my tombstone: First In, Last Out. Remember that.” “I will.” “I’m serious,” she said, and she studied my face. “You’ll remember?” “I’ll remember. But I didn’t know that about you.” “Well,” she said. “I guess there’s a lot you don’t know about me.” “Oh yeah? Like what?” But she was already gone. She ran into the water, whooping, and kept running as fast as she could, but slowed as the

water got deeper. She pushed into it until she couldn’t walk at all, and then she dove under, disappearing completely for what seemed like a long time. Then she reappeared about five yards out, the bigger waves rolling against her back, lifting and releasing her, up and down, up and down. I think she was smiling. We’d planned a big wedding, with friends and family coming in from all over. There was going to be a band and your choice of chicken or fish or veg, and a first dance and a sound system that could turn even my mousey 80-year-old Aunt Muriel’s voice into that of a roaring lion. But all that was postponed, of course. We’d talked about waiting, to do what we’d hoped to do just a little bit later. When things got back to normal. But we couldn’t wait a minute longer. We were married at the courthouse, with our two best friends, witnesses to our contract, safe behind a Plexiglas wall. Now here we were at the

beach, in the days just before summer, the rest of our lives ahead of us. Six days of fog and rain, one day of sun, and then the rest of our lives. She waved, I waved. “Come and get me if you dare!” she yelled into the wind, my freckled goddess in the wine-dark sea, the woman who had already told me the words she wanted on her tombstone when death does us part. I wanted to tell her what I wanted on mine, too, but the water was cold, and she was already so far away. Daniel Wallace is the author of six novels, including Big Fish and, most recently, Extraordinary Adventures. He lives in Chapel Hill, where he directs the Creative Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 53


The Stitch Around Her MOUTH by ETAF RUM


he stitch was starting to come undone, shedding fine, thin threads at the corners of her mouth. For as long as she could remember, she had never seemed to notice it — a ribbon the color of dust woven tightly around her lips. It had been there ever since she was a child, ever since her mother taught her how to roll her first grape leaf, ever since her grandmother read the thick, musty grounds of Turkish coffee at the bottom of her first kahwa cup. By the time she did notice it, she was a mother herself, devoting her energy to her husband and children, her feet firm in the fabric her family had sewn. When she awakened one morning to find the stitch unraveling, a wild terror overcame her. She dared not tug at the loose ends of her stitch in fear her world would unspool. She paused to think now as she hurried to complete her chores before her children returned from school. What was it that had snagged her stitch loose now, after all these years? She wondered if she had done something wrong. The worst thing a woman could do was ques-

illustration by MARIE-LOUISE BENNETT

tion her condition. Her mother had told her that once. Only she’d barely been thinking lately. She knew such freedoms were the province of boys and men, not for women, whose delicate fibers were spun like webs on the kitchen curtains like a daily reminder. Not for a woman whose life was a tight pattern overlapping her mother’s. There was nothing to think about. Things have always been this way. She closed her eyes to the image of her 7-year-old face as she waited in line at the fabric store. Mama had prepared her for the stitching tradition the way Mama’s own mother had done before, wrapping her unruly hair and staining her hands with rust-colored henna. While all the other young girls had locked their eyes on the brightest ribbons, her gaze fell quietly on a strand as pale as wheat. She snatched it, gripped it close to by herDANIEL chest. She thought if she WALLACE must endure the numbing and needling, by EAMON QUEENEY the photography pain that comes with saying words too full, the swallowing of thoughts, the stitch should at least blend in with her olive skin. Others should never know. She stood over the stove now, her afternoon chores completed. The steam

from an ibrik of mint chai prickled her stitch. She felt her mouth stiffening, a burning sensation around the edge of her lips. In the distance, she could hear the sound of a school bus, then her two children approaching — a boy of 8, a girl of 6. She tucked her thoughts away. She didn’t want them to notice her loose stitch, confusing them, or worse, igniting their curiosity. She had no answers to the questions they might ask. The oven clock read 7 p.m. by the time she finished helping the children with homework and cooking dinner. More than once she considered calling her husband to ask when he would be home. But each time she stopped herself. It would be unseemly to question him, to ask where he was or what he was doing as if he wasn’t working the way she was working. Only what if he wasn’t? She teased her loose stitch with the tip of her henna-stained finger before pulling it away. No, she shouldn’t question such things. Growing up, Mama had said the stitch would make her more desirable, not only in the eyes of men, but also women, who were taught to see beauty in lips that were tightly sealed. Yet it was The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 55

Mama who originally suggested that she choose a ribbon that would blend in. A plain ribbon will help you endure the pain, Mama had said, holding her hand at the fabric store, steering her down the fig-colored aisles. She could see other mothers in the aisles too, smiling as they helped their daughters select their ribbons. Some ribbons had the luster of pride and joy; others had a glow of satisfaction. But not hers. She had wondered why her mother steered her to a ribbon that was barely visible, and why she even needed to get a ribbon at all. What would happen if she decided not to get a ribbon, like some of the unstitched women she knew? She wondered what her world would be like without a stitch around her mouth. The next thing she knew, the thought escaped her lips. “What if I don’t want to get a stitch?” “Nonsense,” Mama said, shaking her head. “But not every woman gets stitched,” she said, frozen in the center of the aisle. “The woman who reports the news doesn’t have one. Or the widow who opened up the pharmacy in town. Or even the girl who lives a few blocks away from us.” Mama fixed her with a glare. “This is the way things are, daughter. It’s always been this way.” Soon after the stitching she began to feel a burning sensation in the corners 56 | WALTER

of her mouth, the quiet ripping of flesh. She did what she could to dull the pain, swapping out words, shortening thoughts, sometimes even getting rid of ideas altogether. Some words, she realized, would never be hers to say. Maybe her mother was right. After all, women were woven with a fabric meant to endure the knots and coils of their lives, like carrying the bulbous world in their center. The stitch was just another natural difference, another law of womanhood. Now there was a sound at the front door, then the twist of a lock, and quickly she turned off the faucet, dried her hands, tucked a strand of dry hair behind her ear. She felt the tip of the dusty wheat ribbon tickle her hands, like the touch of her grandmother’s finger when she read her palms as a child. What would her grandmother say if she knew her stitch was coming undone? What would Mama say? Surely they would tighten it. Her stitch was supposed to last a lifetime, a legacy passed along generations. A loosened stitch was the ultimate disgrace, a shame that would swallow her family whole. Wasn’t it her grandmother who said that no good can come from a wide-mouthed woman? And hadn’t Mama agreed, unquestioning, stitching her lips before she learned how to question? Well she was a mother now, to a daughter whose mouth would soon need stitching. She swallowed a lump in her throat. She didn’t like to think of it. Her husband awaited her at the kitchen table, glancing at her with knitted brows. There was a silence between them, one which she had learned not to mind, and she hurried to pour the lentil soup into four bowls. A blanket of steam covered her face and she withstood the temptation to open her mouth, if only for a moment, and stretch the stitch loose. She could feel her children watching her and she didn’t want them to see her this way, opening her mouth in such an unnatural position, the contortions of her face the opposite of womanly. No — there are some moments a child will never forget, like the sound of a moth-

er’s tears, roaring like rain against the roof. Her children shouldn’t have to feel what she felt now, a mountain of memories clung to her chest. She decided she would only stretch her stitch when no one was watching. Somehow at the dinner table, she could hear her grandmother in her ear, the same way she had heard her as a child. Sayings and lessons, like fortune cookies hanging from her ears. “A woman belongs at home,” her grandmother would say. “No good will ever come from a woman thinking.” Her husband cleared his throat, bringing her back to the room. “I have to travel for work tomorrow,” he said. “Where to?” She let the words leak through her stitch as if by accident so as not to make her mouth hurt. It was a trick her mother taught her. “A conference in D.C.,” he said, shoving soup into his mouth as if to purposely end the conversation. She said nothing, having learned from a young age to find safety in silence. She placed a crumb of bread between her slightly parted lips and clenched hard. Dinners were the same every night, with her husband sitting at the end of the table and all three of them curled around him like children. More often than not, one of them would signal her, and, as if wired to be true to her nature, she would drop her food and leap with eagerness, refilling cups and bowls, smiling to the rhythm of clinking spoons. Look how much they need me, her tender heart would whisper as she scurried around the table. Delighted, her husband would look at her and smile as if to say: Look at the family we’ve created, you and I. Look at what we’ve done. Only tonight, huddled around the dinner table with her family, she could hear another whisper: What has she done? The question grazed her stitch, bitterness on her tongue. She looked up at her daughter and felt a tide of guilt rolling in her chest. For a long time, she studied her daughter’s face, resting her eyes on the dull brown mole on her left cheek. All she could think of was the fine needle, slithering up and down

her lips like a snake. Soon her daughter would be 7 years old, and what could she do then? She couldn’t stop it. Lately she had begun to think the stitch was the reason she only had two children. Her mother-in-law never missed an opportunity to remind her to get pregnant, as if she had somehow forgotten her duty. In fact, she closed her legs purposefully at night, feigning exhaustion or sleep, or when she was particularly distressed, a desperate sadness. On those nights she felt an ache swelter not only from her stitch but from a place buried inside her. But now, looking at her daughter’s mouth, thinking of what was soon to come, never had she felt a pain deeper than the shame of mothering another girl. She wondered if her son knew how lucky he was. Her husband, noting the strain on her face, scrunched his eyebrows in a knot. “Is there something wrong?” She met his eyes and instantly turned red. Had her face betrayed her? Had her thoughts escaped her stitch? “No, no,” she whispered. “Nothing’s wrong.” He lowered his gaze to the bowl, stirred the soup fiercely before scooping a spoonful into his mouth. Swallowing at once, he said, “There’s something on the corners of your mouth.” He handed her a rag. “Here, wipe.” Calmly she took the rag from his fingers and pressed it against her stitch. She looked at the stain: it was blood. Her husband stared at her in silence before clearing his throat. “Careful now,” he said, reaching over to tighten her stitch. “The children and I need you around.” At that, her children looked at her in their usual way, their eyes glistening with the past and future as if always to remind her. It was as though they’d made a permanent mark upon her heart from which she could never escape. No, she would never escape. In awe of herself, she swept the thought away. Wasn’t she a believer of God, a believer in His will? If He wanted her this way, with this stitch around her mouth, then surely it was for the best. Besides, did she want to be like some of the unstitched girls she knew, still in their mother’s

house, unmarried — or worse, divorced — an ocean of shame in their ribs? Of course she didn’t want that. Yet within herself, she didn’t understand why she couldn’t be happy. Inside she could hear all the women, and all the women she could hear were tired. She bit the inside of her lip, swallowing her thoughts. She could hear a whisper in her ear. Be thankful, or God will take it all away. The days passed and her stitch kept bleeding: at the dinner table, during the day, whenever she stopped to think about it. Only when she wasn’t thinking did she seem to forget the uncomfortable grip around her mouth. But soon enough she would remember, feeling the heaviness in her mind sink into her lips whenever she spoke. Then the sound of a stitch unraveling, then the taste of blood. Sometimes it felt as if her mouth was only one stitch away from slitting all together, as if at any moment a thought would come and undo everything. Her life as she knew it. She became afraid. Then she began to wonder: Perhaps it’s all my fault. Perhaps I am being unreasonable. And even though there were no noticeable changes in her, all she could think of was what would become of her life if she let the stitch unravel. This fear had become an everlasting whisper in her chest which no amount of thinking could get rid of. Four months passed. The day had finally come. Outside, the sky hung oppressively low, suffocating her. Quietly she reached for her daughter’s hand as they walked into the fabric store. The room was made of glass, with gold circles glistening across the walls. Between the brightly colored aisles, she thought she could hear, very faintly, the silent sounds of sorrow. She let go of her daughter’s hand. From a distance she watched her reach for a dusty pink ribbon, almost identical to her own. Her heart swelled in her chest. She could feel her stitch ripping open, blood leaking from her lips, desperate to spare her daughter. But she said nothing.

How she sewed the ribbon, how she stitched her daughter’s mouth — none of that could she remember later. Only one thought came to her now: the mild expression of submission painted on her daughter’s face, as if it had been given to her since birth. Alone, she studied her own stitch in the mirror with shame. She ran her fingers along the edges of her lips, dug them into the corners as if to rip the ribbon out. Trembling, she tried to keep from screaming. She could taste her mother on her stitch and it made her weep. The daughter of Palestinian immigrants, Etaf Rum was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She has a Master’s of Arts in American and British Literature as well as undergraduate degrees in Philosophy and English and has taught undergraduate courses in North Carolina. She lives in Rocky Mount with her two children. Rum is the founder of @booksandbeans and the author of A Woman Is No Man. The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 57

Memento vivere, remember to live

Into the



uring the pandemic, I became enthralled with The New York Times word game, Spelling Bee. I’d never been attracted to crossword puzzles, Mensa quizzes, or those already-penciled-in Sudoku squares in airline magazines. I’d rather read a book. But there I was at midnight, spending good hours I should have used on my nascent novel, staring at seven letters that must be arranged into words. At least I could excel at finding the pangram — the word that uses all the letters. What I couldn’t do at all was imagine what my fictional characters Charlotte, Lee, and Annsley possibly could be up to in their imagined world, given that a plague was loose in the real world. Their concerns seemed of no concern. But I was learning dozens of new words such as lambi, boba, libelee, doggo, and ricin — words that proved useless outside of boosting me from “amazing” status to “genius.” Ah, genius. What an accomplishment — that is, until the next morning when the new puzzle appeared. 58 | WALTER

Many friends also had developed obsessive activities. My husband Ed always seemed to be mowing the grass, even measuring the height so it remained at 2 inches. My friend Susan tore through several Indian cookbooks, leaving containers of spicy food at our back door constantly, and an Amazon truck pulled up daily at our across-the-street neighbor’s driveway. She was shopping maniacally. Those of us who were lucky survived that suspended and puzzling and frustrating siege. Remember wiping off grocery bags on the porch? Remember when fashion masks in silk prints appeared? Remember those annoying suggestions to keep a gratitude journal? For decades, we’ll be puzzling through this aftermath of grief, itsbyeffects onWALLACE students, what DANIEL refusal to believe the virus existed means, EAMON QUEENEY the photography incalculable,by staggering losses, the global politics, on and on. Per ora, for now, as the Italians always caution, we are reassessing, realizing that we are lucky to do the things we so took for granted. Are we in a Brave New World?

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By metabolic nature, I’m a traveler. After having covered a lot of the globe and written many books about place, of course I knew that those journeys play a major part in my life. During confinement, I chafed. I started spending hours researching the history of Cyprus, the accommodations at Machu Picchu, a hike from Bratislava to Prague. Working on Spelling Bee one week about eight months into house arrest, I came to an impasse. Instead of forming the usual words, I saw that I was picking the letters for “London,” “Rome,” “Miami,” “Hawaii.” Not allowed, any place names, but my travel gene was taking over. I couldn’t get “bountiful,” “exciting,” or “texting,” but adamantly typed in “Paris,” “Kenya,” “Greece.” Travel, it turns out, isn’t just what I like to do, it’s who I am. Did others find such truths? I pushed my novel to the back of my desk — bye-bye Annsley, Lee, Charlotte — and began writing about home. Where’s home? Why leave home? What happens when you do leave home? Why do memories of various homes come back over and over in dreams? How do you make a home? The pull of this subject, so unlike my novel, took over my days. I quit pouring that second, third glass of wine with dinner; I exercised; I lost twenty pounds. Despite all the activity, the desire to go, just go, became overwhelming. Ed and I donned N95 masks and traveled to our home in Italy. I felt like we held our breaths the entire way. We were allowed in because we have residency cards. Everyone greeted us like returning Olympic stars. We quarantined at our home, then lined up for entering the negozio di frutta e verdura for groceries, enjoyed our friends within the limits of our houses, harvested our olive crop, and, before returning to North Carolina, spent two days in Rome prior to departure. 60 | WALTER

Rome alone. I walk. All day. At night. Walking the soles off my shoes. In this slowed, surreal scape, here’s Rome washed clean, the city showing its beauty unalloyed. I revisit favorites of mine, even though many are closed — Bramante’s Tempietto on the Janiculum Hill, the Baroque extravaganza Palazzo Colonna, the chalk pastel palazzi on Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina, kiosks of botanical prints and severe engravings of ruins at the Mercato delle Stampe, Gelateria del Teatro for sublime gelato of lavender and white peach, or cherry, or orange and mascarpone. Who can choose? At Trevi fountain, Ed and I stand there alone. For the first time in decades, I toss a coin. In Piazza Navona, too, I can hear the musical splash of water from the Fountain of the Four Rivers and walk around the lovely ellipse of the ancient stadium. The great Marcus Aurelius, copy of the second-century bronze rider, atop his prancing horse at Michelangelo’s Piazza del Campidoglio, gains in majesty as he surveys a vacant piazza. Totally real, Rome feels imagined, conjured as one of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. Eerie. There’s a lone woman with red fright-wig hair wobbling along the sidewalk with a basket of oranges; the familiar aroma of dark coffee wafting out of a bar, where the barista stands polishing glasses for no customers. The sky is a color a watercolorist might mix, find it too milky pale, and decide to stir in another dollop of cerulean. Trajan’s Column seems to tilt against rushing clouds. The forum appears doubly ancient, columns white as bleached femurs. Church bells send out circles of silver sound. The sculptural pines, the vulgar magenta bougainvillea, the surprise of palms. Because Rome was still “yellow,” lowrisk but still cautious, some restaurants are open for lunch outside. We order both the fried artichokes and the artichokes with tender homemade pasta. We’re talking about whether anything of this Rome can be carried forth into normal times. We remember the day we showed our grandson 18 fountains in

The waiter forgets our glasses of wine, apologizes, and brings over a whole bottle. (That’s Rome.) one day. We remember that Keats rode a pony around the Piazza di Spagna in his last weeks. We remember an apartment we rented with a roof garden that looked down on a clothesline with flapping giant underpants. The waiter forgets our glasses of wine, apologizes, and brings over a whole bottle. (That’s Rome.) I’m thrilled to see Rome like this: an unforgettable, once in a lifetime experience for this traveler. I hope never to see Rome like that again. After a day, I missed the scramble to see what’s on at the Quirinale, new restaurants, friends toasting at wine bars, shopping for shoes, tracking down 10 things on my to-see list. All this amid a chaos of sirens, horns, weaving motorcycles, tsunamis of tourists, overflowing garbage bins, buses spilling out groups from all over the world, silly goofs trying to get in the fountains. Life. People, annoying, glorious people. Back at home, the bleak holiday season arrived, then in January, hallelujah: the vaccine. A quasi-normal life recommenced. Am I grateful for this period of solitude, introspection, focus? Not a bit. I’m grateful that no one I love died, that’s it. Let’s not whitewash: the period was relentlessly awful and a flash of panic washes over me when I wonder if it will happen again. What remains? Is there no silver lining? Yes, the major takeaway: a heightened awareness of carpe diem, seize the day. I love so many people; have I said so enough? All the posts and emails showed friends making their level best of the situation. I saw anew their humor, resourcefulness, brilliance, thoughtfulness, and determination. They signed off not with “ciao,” or “xoxo,” but now with “Love you,” “Miss you,” “Always and Forever.” Don’t forget this, I told myself, when we’re back at Vin Rouge and JuJu, toasting and

chatting and exchanging plans, feeling invincible. We are not invincible. The drastic happened. Don’t forget the lively crowds in Istanbul, the subway crush in New York, the swarms reveling in the extreme beauty of Cinque Terre. Living their lives. Keep the table set, keep the antenna alert for friends in need, keep working to know what’s really going on, keep the rosé chilled, write the check to someone running on ideals, say you are dear to me, order the flowers, the Georgia peaches, the book I just read that X might enjoy. Oh, I do this, but now, my effort doubles and cubes. Brave New World — we know Aldous Huxley’s depressing novel and his title has been used and used, ironically and seriously. Maybe used up. He took the words from Shakespeare’s The Tempest and the whole quote is now somewhat lost. The last half of the sentence is best. Miranda speaks, “O brave new world, that has such people in it.” What mind-bending losses. Memento vivere, remember to live. We go on now, together. You are dear to me. I didn’t give up on the daily Spelling Bee, but if I can’t be a quick genius, I click over to visit Annsley, Lee, and Charlotte. They’ve been waiting a long time to resume their lives. When last seen they were arising from the table after a dinner party, about to make enormous changes. I think they are ready. Frances Mayes’s latest book is Always Italy from National Geographic. Her novel Women in Sunlight is in production as a movie from Water’s End. She is, of course, the author of Under the Tuscan Sun, Bella Tuscany, Everyday in Tuscany, and other international bestsellers. Her books have been translated into 54 languages. She lives in Durham and in Cortona, Italy. The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 61

courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art


Snap the Whip by MILLARD DUNN

illustration by WINSLOW HOMER (1872)

You know the game: everybody

this line of children has become

runs hard as they can, holding hands,

a radius of, and those farthest

and then the boy on the near end

out have to hang on for dear life.

suddenly stops, sets his feet hard

What saves them is how tight they and

against the ground, and the others

their friends can hold on, and for how

swing, like a gate made of children,

long. The farthest from the center

swinging faster the farther out,

need the strongest friends.

fighting centrifugal force now to keep from being flung away, flung out of the sudden circle

Millard Dunn is the author of Places We Could Never Find Alone.

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A Raleigh couple creates an airy Mediterranean-inspired sanctuary



s a child, Ela Gardner spent her summers in Turkey, swimming in coves in the Aegean Sea, picking ripe figs, and perusing the bazaars. “I loved watching the boats, and all the bougainvillea that grew everywhere,” she says. “There was so much great family and outside time.” Her husband, Lars, grew up with a similar connection to nature in rural Southern California. Surrounded by vineyards, olive groves, and lush gardens, he hiked and biked in his spare time. So when the two settled in Raleigh, they wanted to recreate that connection to the outdoors for their daughters Zara and Lola. They moved here after having spent 10 years in Chicago, where, Lars says, “Snowmageddon and polar vortex winters really made us want our own sunny space to garden, swim, and let our children explore.” The Gardners found a way to do this in a sprawling 1.5-acre lot tucked off Lake Boone Trail. Together with architect David Kenoyer, builder Greg Paul, and landscape designer Tom Nowell, they designed their dream home: a 6,000-squarefoot, six-bedroom, urban oasis. The new space, built in 2018, blends the breeziness of Mediterranean and coastal California 80 64 | WALTER

homes with a touch of modern farmhouse style. “That pallet of materials they used to build the house was simple but impactful,” Paul says. Behind ancient oaks in the front yard, white-painted brick showcases wrought iron detailing and wooden beams and shingles, a Southern take on the stucco homes that Ela recalls from her childhood. “We love clean lines and industrial components, like concrete walls and exposed wood beams, juxtaposed with more traditional features like the painted brick and shingles,” says Lars. The home is surrounded by a spacious and secluded yard that bursts with color and scents of lavender, rosemary, and jasmine. A pool takes up half the backyard; the other half houses a vegetable garden, courtyard, and generous lawn. “We loved the idea of a courtyard in the center,” says Lars. “Jasmine grows up the walls, and the girls can pick the daisies, peonies, and hydrangeas for our dinner table.” Nowell turned a steep slope in the backyard into a terraced garden wall with stone paths that connect it to the pool and garden. He worked with the Gardners to fill the yard with herbs, fruit trees, and even a unique variety of holly tree that resembles the olive trees

Lars remembers from his childhood. “What they’ve done is amazing,” says Nowell. “They really knew how to turn it into an escape.” The Gardners used every opportunity to bring the outdoors inside. The home is anchored by an open-plan great room, with salvaged wood beams and skylights punctuating the ceiling. “We wanted a ranch with a winding ‘U’ shape where we could see out to parts of the house from inside,” says Lars. Glass-paned French doors and generous windows highlight the view beyond. “When you walk through the front door, you immediately see the gardens — it’s so cool,” says Paul. The kitchen and dining area open up to a screened-in porch that lines the back of the house, perfect for family dinners and movie nights. “The ability to open the doors and use the outdoor space for daily living was very important,” says Ela, who recently started her own interior design firm, Fig Tree Homes. “These areas are our favorite, hands down.” It all flows together in a breathtaking, light-filled oasis comfortably adorned with family heirlooms, photos, plants, and art collected over the years. “We love how the house turned out,” says Lars.

SHADOW PLAY Two enormous willow oaks shade the front yard of Ela and Lars Gardner’s home. “They make the place seem like it’s been there for a long time,” says builder Greg Paul. The couple was on the fence about keeping them, but are happy they did. “There’s lots of swinging that happens on this one!” says Ela.

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WELCOME HOME Opposite page: They installed a concrete wall to line the driveway to the front of the home, where white-painted brick, black iron detailing, and wood tones give it a Mediterranean look. The Gardner family: parents Lars and Ela with daughters Zara and Lola. This page: Vibrant zinnias, phlox, and geraniums bloom inside the planters, while hydrangeas and Asiatic jasmine frame the front entrance.

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UPWARD MOTION This page: The wrought iron staircase with a Chippendale-inspired railing is a nod to traditional Southern style. Opposite page: In the formal sitting room, hand-painted Turkish plates, family photos, and other knick-knacks fill the shelves. “This is one of the rooms that we did later,” says Ela. “As we continue to do more projects, we’re going in a more modern direction.” The Gardners salvaged the limestone laundry basin from the house that originally sat on the property. “It’s great for bathing the dog or washing the kids’ paint supplies,” says Ela. The Paris print was an estate sale find. The couple mixes high-end furnishings with bargain finds, antiques, and artistic pieces (here, chairs from Bassett Furniture, an Ethan Allen table, an IKEA buffet, and a mirror from Revelation by Uttermost).


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“We love clean lines and industrial components, like concrete walls and exposed wood beams, juxtaposed with more traditional features like the painted brick and shingles.” — Lars Gardner

WIDE OPEN Opposite page: Reclaimed wood beams from a barn in Virginia are combined with white oak floors in a natural matte finish to give the open kitchen a modern farmhouse look. In the kitchen, a Turkish rug adds softness and texture, and neutral-toned linen couches and pillows in the adjacent living area create an airy look. With floor-to-ceiling windows and French doors that open to the screened-in porch, the space is ideal for entertaining and sharing family meals outside. “My mom lives nearby and is always coming over with Turkish food, so the kitchen is where we spend a ton of time,” says Ela. The globe light in the dining room is Serena & Lily. “I liked that it was substantial and big, but felt airy and not too formal,” she says. The dining table is made from reclaimed wood and cast iron. “I wanted to find something we didn’t mind beating up a bit with dinners and art projects.” This page: In the main hallway, which leads to the bedrooms, large geometric wood panels line the walls.

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REST EASY Opposite page: Ela and Lars’ bedroom looks out to the garden with floor-to-ceiling windows. The mantle was an estate find, decorated with a picture frame from Turkey that was from Ela’s dad’s office, botanical prints she tore from an art book, framed prints found at local home shops, and a driftwood sculpture from Uttermost. Above their bed is a piece of white plaster art from Z Gallerie. For their bathroom, the couple chose a Merola cassis blue cement tile to mirror the pool outside. “It reminded me of hand-painted Turkish Iznik tiles, which are so pretty,” says Ela. They chose to do an arch over the rectangular bathtub as a contrast to the straight lines elsewhere. “I saw it in a book somewhere and loved it — I felt like this added some romance,” she says. This page: Zara and Lola’s rooms are connected by a Jack-and-Jill bathroom and filled with estate finds and homemade items. Lars’ mother, a retired kindergarten teacher, handmade their name banners. Ela loves using wallpaper that reminds her of the outdoors in smaller spaces like the bathrooms, including grasscloth and patterns in blue tones or with florals and animal prints.

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STAIRCASE this page: Southern meets modern: The wrought iron staircase with a “Chippendale railing” is a nod to a more traditional southern style but the straight lines give it a modern look.

LIVING ROOM/DINING ROOM/ LAUNDRY ROOM left: The Gardner’s salvaged the original limestone laundry basin from the house that originally sat on the property. “It’s great for bathing the family dog or washing the kid’s paint supplies,” says Ela. They saved much of the supplies from the original home and donated it to Habitat for Humanity

Inside this Clinton living room are striking wood-paneled ceilings and a wall of windows.


EVERGREEN ESCAPE Opposite page: The Gardners worked with Tom Nowell to install a terraced garden wall. “Lars and I had seen many gardens like that in coastal homes in central California,” says Ela. “We loved the idea of a lush garden growing out of an industrial-looking framework.” The screened porch boasts comfy seating, orchids (Ela’s favorite), and ferns, plus an outside TV for family movie nights. The goal with their yard was to have a more wild feel. “We didn’t want perfectly manicured rows of plants, we wanted larger trees, bushes, flowers, and grasses,” says Lars. “Tom joked that any time he wanted to plant a row of anything, he had to tell himself no!” To continue the California and Mediterranean theme, they planted rosemary and lavender, along with fig, apple, pear, and holly trees. This page: A covered patio at the pool level houses a ping-pong table and rustic seating; the painting is by Samuel Kane. On the lowest level, Nowell installed a seating area with a fire pit and container vegetable gardens in galvanized feeding troughs. This time of year it brims with eggplant, tomatoes, and bell peppers. “It was an opportunity to add some definition to the rear lawn,” says Nowell.

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Taylor White’s kinetic, overscale work is changing the face of downtown

g n i t n i a P town e h t by COLONY LITTLE photography by GEOFF WOOD


or as long as Taylor White can remember, she’s had a paintbrush in hand. She started by replicating her favorite characters in books, like the delicately drawn charcoal animals in Robert McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings and the hyperstylized, fantastical characters found in cartoons and comic books. Even her teachers noticed her talents at an early age: at 5 years old, she landed her first commissioned gig, creating a flyer for her kindergarten circus at Kingswood Elementary School in Cary. Art continued to weave its way into White’s life. She took advanced art classes in middle and high school, where her influences evolved into surrealist artists like Salvador Dalí. She moved to Georgia to attend the Savannah College of Art and Design, where she studied

illustration. “SCAD is pretty career-oriented,” White says, “so I was always of the mindset of, How am I going to make a living this way?” When she graduated from SCAD she moved to Norway and took a job as a storyboard artist for an advertising company. But over time she questioned her career choice; there was little creative freedom in her full-time work. “I’d planned to be a commercial artist, but I did that for three years and then was like, I’m not sure about this,” she says. While she was working in commercial advertising, White kept up her personal illustration, where she continued to cultivate her artistic voice. Her early illustrations walk the line between figurative and surrealist imagery depicting whimsical characters, oftentimes children, who are both at play and in peril.

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Her style combined hints of McCloskey’s charcoal shading with strong lines of black ink against a soft palette of pastel yellows, greens, and dusty rose. While in Norway, her personal work caught the eye of an art patron, who saw potential in White. “I was doing a lot of illustration work but the energy of my work was more fine art, and he was like, I’m curious to see what you would do if I gave you a show,” she says. He invited her to participate in a group exhibition that would ultimately change the trajectory of her career from commercial illustration to painting. However, by the late 2000s, Norway’s economy was struggling through a recession, and White found herself without a job. At the urging of a friend, the artist packed her bags and moved again, this time to Melbourne, Australia. “It was another one of those serendipitous moments,” says White. “I was talking to a friend from college and I said I was going to leave Norway but don’t know what I’m going to do next. She said, I have a ticket to Australia, I leave after Christmas, you should come. That’s all it took.” That nudge was all she needed to take a leap of faith, with the hope that a move to a new country would reignite her career. While in Australia, White continued to hone her artistic voice while working odd jobs to pay expenses. She began sketching surrealist ink portraits that explored her childhood. Her work from this period is introspective and expresses the complex emotions that emerge out of direct and indirect trauma. “My home life was very stable, but there’s always something that will throw you for a loop,” says White. “I had some experiences with turmoil that was reflected in that work in an exploratory way, so you see some of the childhood emotions.” Using vintage reference images from child labor documentary photographer Lewis Hine, White sketched children in newsboy caps and button-up shirts whose faces were scratched out in magenta or aqua green ink. “They depict a side of childhood that people don’t want to talk


about,” says White. “It’s not all cartoons and innocent experiences. Your world is always shifting.” White’s time in Australia also coincided with the zenith of Melbourne’s street art scene. She networked her way into a group of supportive artists who showed her the ropes of mural-painting, and they helped her scale up her illustrations. Soon, many of the children in her sketches found their way onto Melbourne’s walls. “Melbourne was very embracing — there wasn’t a lot of tribalism,” White says. “It was like, you’re good at art, let’s do art together. It was a great environment.” Her work continued to evolve into surrealist renderings of bodies in motion that capture the fluidity of dance, as the human form appears to tumble into, around, and among one another through abstracted limb fragments painted in various shades of purple, blue, and magenta. White remained in Australia for two years before she felt the lure of home, and after a Christmas visit with family, she decided to return to Raleigh, living and working out of a space in Boylan Heights. But wanderlust hit again — she “ran away” to Atlanta for six months. “I spent a lot of years thinking I needed to be someplace else,” she says. “I thought I needed to be in L.A., or a bigger city, or around more eclectic people.”

“Let’s live life, come out and see art, and celebrate being alive.” —TAYLOR WHITE

It took that move to realize that what she was really looking for was already here. “I woke up one day and I was like, this is all me,” she says. “It’s just bullshit that you’re going to find what you’re looking for anywhere other than where you are, because it’s all up to you.” So she came back to Raleigh. And here, both her personal work and commissioned projects flourished, her pieces becoming fixtures in the downtown scene. Her 2015 mural, Bacchanalia, lines the walls above the bar at Whiskey Kitchen, and in 2016 she painted Eden, a portrait of a seated man playing the banjo, for Raleigh Raw. Between 2018 and 2020, White completed over a dozen outdoor murals in the Triangle, throughout the United States, and overseas. White became one of the city of Raleigh’s first commissioned muralists when she created Abstracted Motion, an augmented-reality mural on W. Davie Street, in 2018. The large-scale, 40-foot by 60-foot piece features a series of five dancers who are connected to one another through linked arms and legs. The augmented reality elements of the mural were developed in partnership with Google Fiber and Portland-based design firm Nelson Cash; visitors can view the mural through an app that transforms the subjects into 3D versions of themselves that appear to extend from the mural wall. Using the app, viewers can experience a 360-degree perspective of the piece. In May, White finished another mural in downtown Raleigh, this one on Wilmington Street. Titled 8-bit to 5G, this one takes a slight departure from her signature figurative style of painting to pay homage to the history of video gaming. It’s an abstracted collage of pixels and symbols that morph together, conjuring memories of TRON, Ms. Pac-Man, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Grand Theft Auto. The mural, created in a partnership between Subnation Media and the Greater Raleigh Esports Local Organizing Committee, is a nod to the city’s burgeoning video-game industry, which has played a key role in spurring economic growth in Raleigh. “Among many things, public

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Opposite page: Taylor White at work on 8-bit to 5G on Wilmington Street. Above: The completed mural.

art is what sets a city apart and makes it more memorable,” says Roxanne Lundy of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, which sponsored the mural in partnership with Red Hat. “We’re lucky to have an artist like Taylor to bring new life to our public spaces. Her murals are eye-catching, technical, and layered in meaning.” (This mural will also have an augmented reality aspect to it, still under development as of press time.) Even though her mural work is steady, White continues to push herself into new projects. This summer, she opened a self-funded gallery show titled Pursuit of Happiness in the former Art of Style location on Hargett Street. Having her work there is a boon to downtown, says Lundy. “Taylor’s murals and gallery not only inspire but also bring vibrancy to downtown Raleigh,” she says. “The gallery itself is well positioned to comple-

ment nearby restaurants, retailers, and businesses along Hargett Street.” Lundy is optimistic about the vital role of art in the district’s recovery. “The success of one brings the success of many. That type of impact is real and makes our community stronger.” The 24 paintings in Pursuit of Happiness were inspired by the process of transformation. Figurative works feature subjects whose bodies are superimposed with graphic shapes, colorful pixels, and cute emojis. While elements of her mural style are present among the paintings, the additional pop surrealist details make her subjects appear as though they are emerging from or dissolving into pixels and shapes. White’s artist statement contextualizes the work as a function of our collective emergence from the pandemic: “I believe that the past year has pushed us into a transfor-

mative state and it is up to us to step forward into that transformation. We are beings with purpose. We are enough; we are completely accepted, and our journey is understood by something more benevolent and complete than what we can perceive as human beings.” “Taylor’s work is proof that out of a difficult year, creativity will flourish,” says Lundy. For White, this state of grace is the byproduct of a well-traveled journey, filled with experiences that continue to shape her artistic eye, but it’s also a reminder that transformation can begin and end at home, too. While her murals continue to place her artistic stamp on Raleigh, her latest show offers a glimpse into new work that invites viewers to embrace their own post-pandemic state of grace. As she says: “Let’s live life, come out and see art, and celebrate being alive.”

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Folks at Bar S Ranch.

a nude 82 | WALTER

attitude After lockdown, the instinct to bare all is on the rise


photography by BRYAN REGAN

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wayne drives an 18-wheeler, often clad in nothing but his tattoos. “I slip off my shirt and shorts and go — but only at night,” he says. As we speak, he’s soaking up the sun sans shirt, shorts, or anything else in a meadow near a busy patio pool. Nearby, folks hula hoop, au naturel. Dwayne describes himself as a devout churchgoer and former sheriff’s deputy turned long-haul trucker. He’s also a naturist, which is readily apparent. For the uninitiated, “naturist” is the preferred term for folks who enjoy the feel of a breeze without the intrusion of fabric, who like to bare all with, as the International Naturist Federation puts it, “the intention of encouraging self-respect, respect for others, and for the environment.” Dwayne and his wife live in the mountains, but like nudists from all over the state — including a relatively recent surge from the Triangle and Triad — he’s a frequent visitor to the Bar S Ranch, a sprawling naturist resort tucked in the hills outside Reidsville. And while Dwayne’s non-textiled appearance this Saturday afternoon might shock some, the reason behind it will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with a common 21st-century prescription: self-care. “In law enforcement, a lot of what I saw broke my heart. I’d come home and take off my clothes and just shed the world away,” he recounts. “Shed all my stress.” A similar impulse seemingly tied to the stresses of COVID-19 produced surging interest in nudism here and abroad. The Wall Street Journal, Vox, and The Telegram all reported on the spike. Last August, Forbes declared that “nudism has become a thing.” Lynn, the no-nonsense manager at the Bar S Ranch, reports that since 2014, membership has leapt by 150%. The rustic resort’s 26 cabins are rented year-round. Fueling much of the growth are people from Raleigh, Durham, Win84 | WALTER

“My theory is that people have been staying home, not having to get dressed. Maybe they’re not wearing anything. And they think, This is nice. Plus, they like not doing laundry as much.” — Jay Shapiro ston-Salem, and Greensboro. “They’re some of our biggest population centers for members now,” says Lynn. “We get doctors, lawyers, teachers.” But after word goes out that a reporting team from the capital city would visit over the weekend, no Raleigh members show up. Coincidence? Or avoidance? Which raises a question: in an era that embraces exposure via social media and dating apps, that celebrates all sorts of things that used to be unacceptable, what is so taboo about being nude? Naturist resorts aren’t the only option for getting together in the all-together. Triangle Area Naturists (T.A.N.) has

been hosting clothing-optional house parties since the mid-1980s. Longtime member Jay Shapiro, one of the few naturists who shared a last name, reports that during the pandemic, T.A.N. picked up 34 new members. “My theory,” he proposes in a radiosmooth baritone, “is that people have been staying home, not having to get dressed. Maybe they’re not wearing anything. And they think, This is nice. Plus, they like not doing laundry as much.” At T.A.N.’s first post-pandemic potluck in May, the great undraped mingle in the sunken living room and on the back deck (complete with a shielding

T.A.N. member Jay Shapiro in his modernist home

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This page: Attendees at the T.A.N. meeting. Opposite page: Scenes from Bar S Ranch.

68 | WALTER 86

“When everyone is nude, you don’t know if you’re talking to a banker or a janitor.” — Jason wall of tall plants) of Jay’s modernist North Raleigh home. Asked to describe the allure of reveling in the raw, the 30 or so guests pop off the words “freedom” and “honesty” like fireworks at a Fourth of July bash. DiDi, unclad from the waist up, chalks up her interest in nudism to an American classic, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. “When I was eight, I read the chapter where Tom and Huck go skinny dipping and I thought, I want to do that!” she says. Growing up in a straightlaced home, DiDi didn’t get around to it until she graduated from Duke University and discovered a clothes-free swimming hole in Bahama, just north of Durham. “There were people without clothes in the water, on the rocks, under the trees,” she says. “I was struck by how

natural it was; so free.” Visiting T.A.N. from Greenville, Kumar pipes up: “I like the positive auras and the friendly vibes. Also, the equality.” “When everyone is nude,” agrees Jason from Greensboro, “you don’t know if you’re talking to a banker or a janitor.” While class distinctions might vanish with the clothes, the parade of human shapes is eye popping. But once you see a whole brigade of bare bodies, you get comfortable with the full range of our physiques — much wider than what you see on cable. The pressure-free mood is “so good for your self-esteem,” says Jill, brushing aside auburn tresses, as if Lady Godiva had dismounted her steed in a suburban kitchen.

Jill “grew up a prude” in a conservative house in a small town where the rules were “what dad said” and “the neighbors were always talking about each other.” “Life is hard; being nude helps,” she sighs. “This is freeing.” Yet, Jill doesn’t feel free enough to share news of her remedy for life’s jagged edges with her family. “I have grandkids,” she explains. And while she has no plans to go birthday suit-ing around them, she’s terrified the kids’ parents might get the wrong idea and end their visits. The wrong idea has nothing to do with freedom or equality. Those things are as American as a bald (or otherwise undressed) eagle. Rather, nudists say, they’re bedeviled by the misguided buzz that their real preoccupation is, ahem, the birds and the bees. Whatever brings each naturist to shed clothes and convention, it is NOT, they say, the promise of sex. This is very nearly a mantra, from T.A.N. to the Bar S Ranch. The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 87

on the down low. Despite the world’s seismic shifts in what’s acceptable, “this is still the South,” he says, “still the Bible Belt.” Dwayne, the naked trucker and avid eased back down to their usual position. Relaxing poolside at the resort, John, churchgoer, has a retort for that. SpreadHaving grown up on swim teams and aka blogger “The Bearded Beerman,” deing his arms on a deck overlooking being a die-hard gym rat myself, this clares, “There are no sexual undertones. the pond (unfortunately inhabited by There are no pretenses in the way here. is not all that different from being in a snapping turtles), he posits: “Did God not You can’t be anything other than what locker room — except with no tan lines create Adam and Eve this way — and say you really are when you’re naked.” and lots of members of the opposite sex, Sitting 4 feet away, and also starkers, I one of whom resembles my Aunt Loraine. it was good?” Then, hearing the splashing of a volleytake John’s point. The atmosphere is laid back; ULTRAball game in the nearby pool, he streaks For this story, T.A.N. and the ranch casual, you might say. Nothing like the off with a merry, “Oh, shoot! I gotta get have required that the reporting team be, charged air of a nightclub floating in in there.” as Jay Shapiro put it, “fully immersed in flattering fabrics and flashing jewelry. the experience of enjoying the company The exposure reveals how vulnerable we of other unwrapped humans.” all are. My bare foot lands in prickers. Oh, we’re “fully immersed” all right — During an interview, I battle an exceedbut is the experience “enjoyable”? ingly inappropriate mosquito brazenly I’ll attest that, initially, strolling combuzzing near my inner thigh while a bubpletely exposed into an unfamiliar living bly teacher from Winston-Salem gingerly room or hula hooping party is startling, shoos another one from my forehead. even alarming. Within a quarter hour, The teacher’s husband, eyes shaded by a Crocodile Dundee hat, is explaining why though, the internal alarm bells ceased he wants to keep even their first names their shrieking and my raised eyebrows

“Did God not create Adam and Eve this way — and say it was good?” — Dwayne


Addie Ladner


Guests at a reception for the Branching Out exhibit at The Umstead Hotel & Spa

WALTER’s roundup of gatherings, celebrations, fundraisers, and more around the Triangle.

90 Branching Out 90 Glenlake South Garden Stroll 91 Beaufort Summer Party 93 Fisher Dinner 93 King of the Court 94 Campbell Law School Class of 2021

To have your event considered for The Whirl, submit images and information at

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 89

THE WHIRL GLENLAKE SOUTH GARDEN STROLL On Sunday, June 6, the Glenlake South community held a Garden Stroll and silent auction to raise money for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. Auction items were donated by artists in the neighborhood and more than $5,400 was raised.

Courtesy The Green Chair Project (DESIGN); Charlene Newsom (GUZMAN)

Hannah Cole, Jim Lee, Tim Lytvinenko, Beverly McIver, Thomas Sayre, Shelley Smith, Leah Sobsey, Damian Stamer

Janie Johnson with volunteers from the Food Bank

Guests enjoy the panelist talk

Leah Sobsey, Damian Stamer

Guests at the exhibition

Sarah Yarborough, Victor Lytvinenko

Kristin Replogle, Charman Driver, Kathy Brown


Geri Goldstein, Denny Creighton, Janie Johnson, Cindy Jones, Shannon Hardy

Donated artwork

Taylor Harrington

Nancy Temple, Denise Weeks

Marjorie Hodges (UMSTEAD); Courtesy Glenlake South (GLENLAKE)

BRANCHING OUT This summer, Artsuite and The Umstead Hotel & Spa presented Branching Out: North Carolina Contemporary Artists Interpret Nature. Curated by Marjorie Hodges with Leah Goodnight Tyler and Marcelle Kick, the exhibition included notable artists from around the State. On June 24, a sold-out crowd enjoyed a panel conversation with the artists.

THE WHIRL BEAUFORT SUMMER PARTY The Beaufort Historic Site held its Summer Party on July 10 on the grounds of the Historic Site in Beaufort. They welcome numerous visitors for this special event, which featured Blazin’ Keys Entertainment, food from Scarborough Fare Catering, and a silent auction with over 100 items. The funds from the party will benefit the extensive Old Jail Restoration Project.

CreativeMornings is a monthly breakfast lecture series. It’s simple, nothing fancy, and we like it that way. Just good people, a great talk, and coffee. JOIN US THE LAST FRIDAY OF EACH MONTH!

Liane Ricci, Antoine Ponton, Ryan Lenz, Tula Summerford, Warté Moore

Courtesy The Beaufort Historic Site

Heather Sink, Lyle Garner, Rhonda Garner, Jerry Sink


July 30

October 29

August 27

November 19

September 24

December 17


creativemornings/cities/ @CM_RDU Guests in front of the Old Jail

Everyone is creative. Everyone is welcome.

Patricia Suggs, Luke Gruber, Hattie Gruber

nourish your mind 12



or call 818-286-3118



Courtesy The Farm at Old Edwards (FISHER); courtesy the Raleigh Tennis Association (TENNIS)

FISHER DINNER On Friday, May 21, guests at The Farm at Old Edwards enjoyed a dinner featuring the wines of Fisher Vineyards. Atlanta chefs Matthew Basford of Canoe and Chris Hall of Local Three each cooked to exclusive wine pairings.

Doug Rieder, Cathy Stevens, Becca Rieder, Juelle Fisher, Darlene Conley, Paul Conley, Michael Von Eyser, Charlie Stevens

KING OF THE COURT On June 4, the Raleigh Tennis Association hosted the King of the Court Pro-Am Fundraiser, part of the Cy King Summer Classic, at North Hills Club. Proceeds benefitted the Cy King Community Tennis Fund, which offers grants for local tennis programs and high school students.

PART OF THE FABRIC OF RALEIGH SINCE 1899 Our patients receive state-of-the-art care in a warm, professional, safe and friendly environment. We welcome new patients!

OUR SIGNATURE SERVICES INCLUDE: Comprehensive & Cosmetic Dental Care Same-Day CEREC Crowns Invisalign Orthodontics Dental Implants Sleep Apnea TMJ Therapy


Julie Dick, Cy King

The Ams: Julia Perkins, Emily Cutts, Donna Bauman, Sue Norcia, Stephanie JohnsonDisbrow, Erin Swindell, Howard Marsilio, Amanda Davis, Steve Riley, Raymond Xu, Bill White, Liz Sanchez, Kimberly Durland, Betsy Wood-Ehrenberger, Eli Sheets, Lou Welch, Emily Wood, Lucy Holding

The Pros: Bailey Gosselin, Beatrice Capra, Brad Pomeroy, Carlos Garcia, Caylan Ashworth, Heather Waters, Lilo Pelegrino, Liz Perkins, Kyle Spencer, Quentin Guichard, Brian Rosenthal, Joanna Nalborska, Cris James, Tom Eklund, John French, Jay White, Tendai Tapfuma, Matt Nicholson

let’s socialize

@WalterMagazine The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 93

THE WHIRL CAMPBELL LAW SCHOOL CLASS OF 2O21 On May 7, Campbell Law School conferred 166 Juris Doctor degrees at Red Hat Amphitheater. Dean J. Richard Leonard also bestowed 11 Master of Laws degrees on behalf of the Nottingham Law School, United Kingdom. Governor Roy Cooper was the commencement speaker.

Mireya Colin

Kenya Glover

Daniel Bello Castro

Brandon Irabor

Class of 2021 with Dean J. Richard Leonard

Caroline Casey

Tanya Becena Campbell

Take WALTER to go! There’s always something to discover on our website and social media. Here’s what’s been happening.



11 RALEIGH RESTAURANTS TO SATISFY SUMMER WANDERLUST Capture the joy of travel much closer to home with these local restaurants that boast unique atmospheres and food inspired by other countries.


SPECIAL DELIVERY! 20 TRIANGLE-BASED CSA AND FOOD SUBSCRIPTIONS From produce and seafood to bread and wine, consider these local seasonal boxes and delivery programs to spice up your home cooking.

CHEF SCOTT CRAWFORD KNOWS HOW TO TRAVEL LIKE A FOODIE Chef Scott Crawford always eats well when he’s in other countries. Here, he shares his insider travel tips.

Our annual women’s innovation summit returns with inspiring workshops and moving talks by local female leaders.



Friday, September 17 at the Umstead Hotel & Spa For tickets and more info:

ELENA ASHBURN Principal, Broughton High School

COURTNEY NAPIER Founder, Black Oak Society

KRISTEN HESS Principal & CEO, HH Architecture


Never Forget How to Live Young by IMONYLOWD illustration by KRISTEN SOLECKI

No matter how many times flesh helps us remember how old our age is, we must never forget how to live young How to live as wild as unwrapped hair in the middle of sleep As wild as two mountains trying to see which one’s really the hardest As wild as a jar of excitement with no lid to cover its mouth from shouting so hard that a lung of joy jumps from its throat and they both sing a song of happiness We must never forget how to live careless, careless not as in any kind of way but as in worriless, as in not letting cares hold you back from believing in the hands that they were made to be casted in We must never forget how to live free As free as a mind that thinks with no limits, as free as an offered blessing with no ultimatum, as free as the will God gave us, as free as the trees that dance when the wind whistles, as free as salvation We must never forget how to be dreamers, how to run our imaginations to the place of what seems impossible, how to stretch the hands of our goals so high that they’re about to peel back a piece of the sky’s body so we can see all the heaven behind it that we can have here on earth if we would just erase the sky’s the limit off of the board of our mottos We must never forget how to try over and over again, like a baby whose toes are trying to become better artists as walking by continuing to attempt to paint a straight line from one side of the living room to the other We must never forget about the smile sitting behind the curtains of our lips We must never forget how to be happy, how to rest How to praise dance in the storm


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